Day 28–The Sound of Silence

June 9, 2010 9:57pm

Gloom as a grey winter

Waiting for our marching orders

N76°12.310 W51°02.415

“Flip me over, I’m done on this side!” was the first thought that went through my mind as I woke up in sweats this morning. The sun was beating on the tent, turning it into a baking oven. We opened the flaps, and dozed off again. In an odd, schizophrenic way, I sometimes wonder whether I am not getting more rest on this trip than I am at home! The sun was out in full glory for most of the morning which led us to believe that the bad weather system that has been with us for the last few days, and the light winds that came with it, might be behind us.

But by midday, a high fog developed and shrouded us in a nasty, humid pea soup; and still, no wind. This weather seems to be shutting down the katabatic winds that normally dominate the ice sheet. These cold winds pour from the top of the dome shaped ice sheet, and generally build in strength on their way down to the coast. Cold air is heavy and subjected to gravitational pull (think of the air that pours down out of the freezer when the door is opened). But no katabatics to be had this day! Around midday, as I was outside setting up a time lapse on the camera of the passing clouds, I looked up in the sky, as I thought I could faintly make out the sound of an engine. No sign of a plane, however; and then–KABOOM! “What was THAT?!”, exclaimed my young friend, shaken out of his slumber from inside the tent. Our whole camp, and indeed it felt as though the ground, had shaken in one powerful burst. We stood silently for a moment, unsure whether the whole ice sheet had shifted. But then, nothing… In the end, I think it was a distant sonic boom, as a military plane must have broken the sound barrier. There is a military base in Thule, about 500 clicks from here. We resumed our respective activities, and this was the end of that.

Writing, reading, and chess playing, and telling stories of polar travel. I recorded a congratulatory message to my friend and partner at Global Green, president and CEO Matt Petersen who will be receiving a Founders Award from the organization on Saturday. He is well deserving of it, and you haven’t had the chance yet, go to and lend your support. It’s a great organization and the employees there depends on your donations to carry out their important work on climate change. Nothing to report on this gloomy, overcast, and very still evening. It doesn’t look like the wind will be with us this night. Time for a dinner and–what else–the eye mask and a snooze, to the deafening sound of silence!

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