Book Ended

April 6, 2009 8:47pm

86.631N, 76.604W

Eerie and ominous, with the profound beauty of the simplicity of
void. That is what the “big lead”‘ conjured up upon walking to it this
morning. A “melt way” frozen over from this summer, this lead spells
out the future of the Arctic ocean as it breaks up; its ice thickness
further threatened by the exponential factors of warm air and warmer
water. This lead was enormous: two miles across and its length unclear
as it stretched East/West well beyond what the eye could see. Imagine a
white, vast surface almost perfectly flat–like a salt flat–fractured
by steamy black veins snaking in the middle of this dreamy whiteness.
The cracks reveal the ocean below, but here they feel like a taste of
Mordor, and foretell things to come; like new forces are at play. The
Arctic ice is rapidly changing, and I wonder if generations to come
will have the chance to do what we’re doing. Will people celebrate the
Peary bi-centennial by attempting the pole? I think not…

We treaded carefully, as the open section which had stopped us
last night had thinly frozen over. Once we skied over a two foot open
section of black Arctic sea. Walking on this gigantic lead felt like
being in a dream, or the computer generated set of a sci-fi movie: just
ice and sky! My one great privilege which will undoubtedly live to be a
great frustration is that whilst witnessing such unique sights, I also
know that it is impossible to capture its scale and breadth on film.
Besides, shooting here is so challenging–each shot a production, each
with cold exposure to fingers–that most shots are not taken. They are
committed to my memory bank, but I will not be able to accurately share
what I see with others. So goes the frustration of photographers
everywhere: for every shot taken, they are thousands that screamed to
have be shot!

Today was a great travel day, across changing terrain, but mostly
big pans, and relatively flat. We pulled for 11 hours and covered 12.3
nautical miles, our personal best. Temperatures were mild–around – 25°F.
Our current position is N86.37.896 and W76°36.268. We stopped and camp
next to a small, narrow open lead, book ending our day. We will cross
it tomorrow. Good night.

Leave a Reply