Day 27–Two birds and an Angel

June 9, 2010 8:34pm

Updating blogs with the HP mini, the iPack and iridium technology

N76°12.310 W51°02415

The sun was at the losing end of a power struggle with high and low clouds all morning. By midday, after alternating light snow fall with bright piercing rays, the sun’s parched light bid its final adieu for the day. But not before running one last salutation across the frozen plain, playing catch up with itself, amidst the clouds’ broken shadows. To the casual observer, the ice may look monotonous; a tediously repetitive blanket of white that stretches agonizingly in all direction. In reality, this frozen land reveals itself it its multitude of subtle details, forever changing with the light, and the dynamics of the day, to those committing to travel its foreboding realm. I can honestly say that in close to a month, and while I could not describe exactly how, I do not recall seeing the same vista twice. The–sometimes subtle, sometimes not–shifts in colors, in shadows, in terrain gives each hour its own visual identity.

Just as the sun finally hid for the day, out of nowhere, two small dots appeared, no more than fifty feet in the air cutting a clear path between Eric’s kite and mine. Birds! We haven’t seen birds–or any animal form for that matter–since we left land almost a month ago. The first thought that crossed my mind was that these birds have no business being here. This, no doubt, is likely what went through their mind as well, as they glanced at two odd shaped, large colorful birds being chased on the ground by men on skis. This strange looking scenario was not enough to peak their interest, however, and without so much as giving it a cursory fly by, these two Arctic terns were out of sight. In truth, some transitory birds regularly venture across the ice sheet, but they are rarely seen. They don’t hang out, as there is no food source. Such a sight is rare enough to be mentioned. It’s a detail, but does point out to the utter isolation one feels out here; there is virtually no life within thousands of square miles. For this time of the year, outside of the couple from Raven camp who manage the military landing strip at DYE II, I would not be surprised if Eric and I were there only living souls up on the ice. The sight of two birds therefore, offer a nice break from this isolation, as were–ironically–the planes’ contrails from last week. We are not alone!

In spite of an early rise, there was no point in rushing out of the tent this morning. The winds were very light, and we lazily kited out at 11 AM. The air was crisp; and little of it though there was, the wind had a cold bite that nibbled at the fingers and cut at the face.

It is a pity there isn’t more wind, or the two feet of powder we are sinking in might have been a dream to float over. As it is, the powder creates enormous drag, and slows down our progress. We managed a painful 87 kilometers that felt like punching the clock; a lot of work, and the light fluffy powder getting into everything! With the music in my ear, and an angel on my shoulder, it still beats a day at the office! We made progress nonetheless, and quit early, seeing as we had exceeded our daily quota of 70 K. No point in killing ourselves and chipping away at some good kiting if the winds come up. As it is, we have probably about eight days of kiting left, before we switch to pulling amidst the crevasse fields on our way off the glacier. We want to make the most of it!

One Response to “Day 27–Two birds and an Angel”

  1. Neither created to pleasant steps.Grim-visaged to merry conferences,He capers nimbly inside a lady’s modified to merry conferences,

Leave a Reply