Every night I sent my family my GPS coordinates via a DeLorme map. Last night’s Tim’s reply to my message read: ‘Your geo location is pointing to the middle of the sea on the website…. Hope the ice is holding’… Those Brits have a dry sense of humour. Gentle reminder to myself to stop during a long ski day once in a while and think that indeed what an amazing thing it is to be walking across an ocean. Not quite Moses walking over Red Sea but a miracle all the same.
With that come other curious things like a drift. Last night’s northerly wind has helped us with another mile gained while we slept. Or being careful as to what snow blocks you pick for your water melt. The first night we picked blocks of multiyear ice that has been around for a few seasons and has absorbed salt from the ocean. We had a rude surprise when the tea tasted salty in the morning. A dangerous thing if consumed consistently. A dog musher in Svalbard told me that salt water poisoning is the leading cause of death for dogs who travel on expeditions to the North Pole.
Today’s reminder was different. When we were crossing a small frozen open lead, Eric, our expedition leader, who was helping us to cross, fell through the ice. Thankfully, Julia was quick with her helping hand. Still, Eric fell waist down. His first reaction once out was to roll in the snow to absorb the moisture. He ruled against a change of clothes and soldiered on. Respect!
Today’s tally is 9 hours of skiing and another 10 miles in the bag. We are now 25 miles in or a whopping 40%! Tomorrow we shall cross a half-point. From memory, on the South Pole that moment was cathartic as it started a mental countdown to the finishing line. So, barring tough surfaces and open in another 4 days, we shall be there, hopefully on a solid piece of ice rather than in a sled canoe steering towards a geographical way point in an open water.