Day 11. The Roller Coaster Ride of Polar Travel
overcast, whiteout -30 degrees F
25 March 2014
My moods fluctuate with the changing ice. When it is flat and the pulling is easy I allow myself to think that we actually might make the pole before our pickup date in May. When the ice is bad my spirits plummet and I am left with the overwhelming sense of being completely overwhelmed.
It was a calm morning and looking back, we could see the mountains of Ellesmere Island golden in the early light. Unfortunately, the clear band soon disappeared and we were left with nearly whiteout conditions. While we could distinguish the blue blocks of pressured ice, everything else was white nothingness - drifts, flat ice snow covered ice.. all the same.
Despite not being able to see the route Ryan and I were in a surprisingly good mood and somehow we got on the topic of barbecue grills.
We don't talk much during the day but there are few seconds when we stop after walking back for the second sled that our interactions span more than a few grunts or 'ok' (whick means anything from start pulling to I'm not injured).
'Have you ever used a green egg?' Ryan asked. 'They're awesome.
Somehow, we managed to sneak around the worst pressure and we didn't take nearly as many falls and slips despite the whiteout. We did have one scary moment when, coming down the backside of a pressure ridge, the sled slammed into Ryan.
'OK.' he said after getting up - signaling both that he was ok and ready to move forward.
Later in the afternoon, we came to what looked like a wall of blue ice. After allowing for the usual plummeting of my mood, we split up to scout a route through - Ryan to the west and I went east. It turned out there was a route through but it was to another small football field-sized. And then another pressure ridge and another small football field-sized piece of ice. It seems weird to see this type of ice this far south.
It was calm enough today that we were both quite warm (at times) and had the zips open on our Bergans bibs. I also took off one of my Helly Hansen base layers and wore my Ergodyne gloves for the first time.
My knee made it through the day but just barely. I'm hoping that tomorrow it will be back to feeling normal. Of course the vitamin 'I' should he'll as well.
Don't forget tomorrow is #IcePhoto day. Help make cold cool by posting your snow or ice picture on my facebook page, twitter and most importantly... YONDER!
Distance travel: 2.99 nautical miles
Image: The first ever polar selfie? Ryan and I pulling one sled.