Ready to push on…it’s cold!
Hi, Richard and David, calling in from Camp 26 – situated: 68º 49’ 3” N, 93º 30’ 7” W. It is Wednesday evening—we think; just after 9 o’clock.
A really cold day today. A day of very little wildlife. Only a couple of ravens. That was it. Barrenness aside, what really continues to strike us, is just how flat this part of the Arctic is and the many confusing tricks of perspective, distance and depth perception this odd feature plays upon our eyes, as if it was conspiring to confuse us in concert with the light.
Out here in the flatness, a mere boulder the size of a shoebox will fool you, looking instead, like a significant landmark. Trying to judge the distance to these little shoebox-sized shapes is, well, another thing entirely. At times they appear to be a hundred yards away, other times they loom large and very near. Neither is ever true, nor accurate.
Much of the day’s progress was bought and paid for, via the perpetual tug-of-war between being too hot, then suddenly, becoming too cold. Sometimes, it is just easier to keep going, as opposed to trying to stick to our usual routine of stopping to rest, hydrating and eating, to recharge. Working hard as we were, the body heat built up quickly. It’s all a bit of a dance, really, between repeated bouts of layering clothing, on or off, or zipping up or down, to vent off or not to escape being too hot, the next minute being too cold. You begin to want to avoid the inevitable bouts of chill that set in mere minutes after stopping, even for the shortest time. So…you keep going.
Richard and I put in a strong 18 kilometres, breaking trail over crusty snow; a snow beginning to show signs of turning it’s own corner towards Spring. The thermometer hasn’t climbed much over -30C lately. But, it’s the wind here in the Arctic, that is the factor now. When it blows it can easily drive temperatures into dangerous territory. Today, it was fairly light and relatively kind. The sun broke out too, for a brief period, putting its shine on everything…spirits included. But, it has to be said, it’s still very cold. A bit of a chill, as it were.
Stove’s on again in the tent tonight — not all night obviously. It is on just to drive the chill off and to get some hot drink down, before we scrape the frost and ice off of the outside of the sleeping bags. There’s obviously a bit of condensation that forms during the night from your breath when it is this cold. That calls for a simple remedy. When we wake in the morning we take the bags out and drape them over the sleds. The condensation turns to ice…you brush the ice off… and presto, the bag is good to go again.
In retrospect, a very significant day. We are likely now within 2 to 3 kilometres range of the western coast of the Boothia Peninsula —roughly 50 kilometres, as the crow flies, from Pointe de la Guiche.
Rather than push it too hard, Richard and I decided to pull up short. We had done a lot. We also wanted to camp, rest, warm up, best as can, do a bit of, ‘M&R’ on hands and feet (maintenance and repair) and prepare ourselves for the two to three days journey to Point de la Guiche. This leg of our expedition will entail skiing, with our still heavy sleds across a very large, very flat expanse of ice and terrain.
The weather forecast as it stands, is for the cold to continue. As always, out here, wind will be the issue. If it blows up a bit too much, the feel-like temperatures will plummet to minus 40C below, or more.
It would appear that we are to have ‘lightish’ winds over the next few days and we hope that continues. We are definitely in our last few days. We’re both feeling good. We’re ready to push on.
David and Richard