overcast 25 degrees F (very warm)
08 April 2016
The last time I was on the back of a dog sled was in February of 2005. At the time, I had been a full time dog musher for the better part of 10 years spending nearly every waking moment eating, breathing and sleeping dogs.
It was a good life. Very intense. Exhausting most of the time, but emotionally rewarding - at least when the dogs were running well. It's hard for me to look back and not feel a little nostalgic about that time of my life. I knew the personalities of each of my dogs better than I knew some of my friends. Later, when I was racing, I would spend all day (and often night) on long training runs with the dogs. No music. Podcasts didn't really exist. Cold and quite - the sound of the runners sliding over the snow and steady panting of the dogs.
In waiting for the ice runway at Barneo to be constructed we have, unfortunately, some extra time on our hands. Last Degree client (and uber-fixer) Masha arranged for us to go dog sledding with a local dog musher, and former Iditarod racer, Tommy Jordbrudal. It felt incredible to be standing on the runners again and we were treated to the always spectacular panorama that is Svalbard. In my usual Arctic stroke of the (un) luck, conditions devolved into flat light, overcast and white out, but the dogs didn't seem to mind as they trotted steadily home satisfied and happy.
The news from Barneo: Helicopter was flying all day. From Barneo though North Pole on E67 degree till N89 40 and then to W150 and then back to Barneo. No suitable ice flow. A lot of ice ridges and open water. Cyclon is there already. It's -24 and 8-10 m/s. But kind of a good news that old runway is holding and maybe it will be possible to make flights there. In a couple if days will be a drop to Barneo. Without tractors, but with food, fuel and oil. Third drop will be on a new ice flow when it will be found.
So once again we are in a waiting game. It's not the first time one of my expeditions has been delayed and it's not the last. In 2014, Ryan and I waited eight days for good weather at Cape Discovery. In the end we got lucky, flying on our final cut off date, March 15th.
As it stands right now, we are three days behind schedule. Not terrible but not awesome either.
Image: Happy dogs!