Good Day

April 4, 2009 8:50pm

Another good day and with it gentler temperatures, all things considered, at
around -25 F degrees. A vast improvement from a few days ago (think as
a reference of a temperature change from 60F to 80F !) It makes trekking
here considerably more civilized and less of a balls out “what the ¤%#*
am I doing here!!?” experience. Still nippy on the extremities, to be
sure, and with the slightest breeze, the razor blades of the polar cold
lash at any exposed skin. Today’s terrain was varied and magnificent. A
lot of wide pans, some rubble (though much less than last week), and a
lot of up and down; but the sledges are getting lighter, thank God! We
came upon an enormous system of melt ways, frozen over, remaining most
likely from the summer. Huge waterways looking like rivers stretching
for miles east/west (unfortunately for us as we are headed north), and
some as wide as 1/4 mile wide. While this makes for excellent
skiing–great gliding property on the hard ice–it spells the ominous
demise of the Arctic summer ice. Indeed while it is predicted to break
entirely in the summer period by as early as 2013 but privately
scientist feared it might have happened last summer, and could anytime
hereafter. Broken ice in the summer means the end of multi year ice and
a rapid breakdown of the structural integrity of the sea
ice–regardless of season. But for us, today, it was eerily beautiful.
We came upon a sliver of open water which we crossed on skis. The water
was black below us. As a bit of trivia: a way to expect an open lead is
to look for the steam that rises from it. Strange though it is to think
of freezing water as steaming, the differential in temperature with the
cold air can be as big as 50°F or more.
We skied for 9.5 hours today
and covered 11 nautical miles true north. We are definitely hitting our
stride, and feel more at ease in this harsh but beautiful place.
Amazing the human body’s ability to adapt to any condition; just like a
virus… For those on frostbite watch, an update: still closely
monitoring a toe and a finger for Keith, and two fingers on me. But I
think we will keep them all!
Our current position is N86°16.383 and W76°35.633. Good night!

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