Day 23–The Doldrums

November 28, 2011 11:26am

November 27, 2011

S74°39.420′ E012°34.774′

Elevation 11174 Feet

The doldrums have as much to do with fun navigating the oceans as they do the ice. In fact, kite skiing an ice cap has a lot in common with ocean sailing. The infinite expanse of ice a frozen sea. Each feature on its surface like frozen waves, each hill a rolling swell. The feeling of isolation and complete freedom is also the same. Outside the clutter of communication, it is a place of introspection and examination. Where time stretches, and thoughts find the space to be heard. I like to think that, if not a better person, one comes back a more actualized one for the time you get to spend with your thoughts. Who gets to do that in the real world? On the ocean or the ice you can reflect. And reflection is one sure way to eventually find inner peace. But just the same, the doldrums can reap havoc to that peace and challenge your inner Buddha! On the ocean, it’s the slow roll of the hull, the flapping of the sails and the rhythmic clanking that gives even a stowaway rat the urge to hit the bottle and stretch a hammock. Out here the doldrums are not dead calm days: those are rest days. The doldrums are when the wind is there enough to get you out for fear of missing a day and badly needed miles, but so marginal that to endlessly watch the kite dive and slowly rise to gain a few meager feet could actually get you sea sick!

This is the dirty little secret of kiting expeditions: for each hour of glorious glide, flying over the ice like battle wagging Valkyryes, there are ten hours of fastidious, labor intensive haggling with the elements, at the losing end of a sore deal. But sitting rarely gets you where you want to go, and so for the last two hours of today’s travel, we negotiated each hard earned kilometers until the wind just petered out around 15:30. We started with a bang and ended with a whimper: the glory points were worth the price of admission, nonetheless, with strong wind for the first ninety minute section of our day which netted us 26 kilometers and the 48.38 kilometers daily total was sweat and back pain tears. It seems the pattern has been just that: good mornings and early shut off. This will force us out of bed: the early bird gets to fly!

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