Day 23. The Longest Lead
overcast , -27C
25 March 2010 | Arctic Ocean
I spent a few minutes after our soup break trying to brush a frozen noodle off of my parka ruff. It had fallen out of my Stanley flask and was now solidly embedded in my parka. With growing frustration, I finally pushed the ruff to my mouth and ate the noodle out. It's come to that. I suppose I shouldn't mention that it tasted surprisingly good.
I'm not sure karma was giving us pay back from yesterday or were simply on the up side of something very bad. Maybe, it was the positive omen of only drifting 27 feet. Either way, we'll take the successes of today.
After a late night melting and drying boot liners, we were up and off early The snow was decent but we were caught up in a few pressure ridges that slowed us down a bit - nothing major, just the thin thin (12 inches) slabs of ice. When a bit of sun poked through, the corners and folds of long winding ridges reflected a pale blue unlike any color I have seen before.
Eventually, we made our way onto a lead and had to veer east to avoid open water. We finally managed to get around the water and some bigger ice rubble and then back on multi year ice. Looking down at my Suunto compass, I couldn't believe what I saw next. My bearing, slightly west of true north was aimed down one of the biggest leads I have ever seen. Not only that, but it looked like safe flat ice as well.
For three hours (no lie), we skied effortlessly. 'It was like going into warp speed compared to our normal pace,' commented Darcy. Along the way, we passed over a bit of rubbery ice, had to span a few gaps, and at one point, had to make a small raft out of ice.
'I'm going to trust you that this is safe,' AJ said to me as I pushed him floating on a thin ice chunk toward Darcy on the other side. It worked. About the same time we were wrapping up our Huck Finn-style adventures, a seal popped its head up and gave us a quizzical examination.
What was it doing HERE, we all wondered. Does this mean more open water tomorrow? One thing is for sure, where there are seals, polar bears are not too far behind.
If you haven't already, you may want to join the conversation on Newsvine at http://ericlarsenexplore.newsvine.com. This week contributers are discussing global CO2 policies.
Image: AJ and Darcy skiing down the long lead.
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