by John Huston
Location: Resolute Bay, Nunavut Territories, Canada
Distance Traveled: 0
Distance to fly tomorrow: over 500 miles north
Tomorrow, we enter another reality. If the weather holds we will depart Resolute Bay, Nunavut Territories, Canada, population 350 for the ice of the Arctic Ocean, current population 6. We leave behind our families, loved ones, 3 years of tireless preparation and all the little freedoms and choices that make up normal day-to-day life.
For the next 55 days we will eat the same food everyday and adhere to the same daily routines, yet we can't wait to hit the ice and enter what we refer to as the simple life of a long-distance cross-country ski expedition. It is this simplicity that frees our minds to truly focus at the task at hand and experience life in a way not possible when we are tethered to our computers, schedules and mobile phones.
Leaving these items behind, however takes a lot of planning and work. Essentially we now start an existence where every gram of food, fuel and equipment has been calculated to sustain us for almost two months.
Several times we've said that 'planning is the expedition'. It's true! Everything is easier to do in the warmth of our lodgings than it is on the ice. We can't anticipate everything, so we try to set ourselves up to adjust resourcefully with ease.
Our Swiss Tools are truly our MVPs in this department. In preparation in Resolute, during the final tinkering with equipment, we always had trouble finding our two Swiss Tools because they kept moving around the room so quickly.
This afternoon we loaded our sleds into the Twin Otter airplane that we have charted to fly us to Ward Hunt Island, the most northern point of North America. We both felt the jumpy energy of the pre-expedition anticipation.
We weighed and double checked everything over and over and over, but still ask each other what are we leaving behind. This is an unsupported expedition, if we forget something we don't get a second chance. At the same time, we view extra weight as an evil that can slow us down every step of the way.
We are both tired of planning and are ready for the green flag to drop. Temperatures near Ward Hunt Island look to be 20°F warmer than we expected. Due to the mountains of Ellesmere Island to the south, the sun has yet to reach the snows on which our plane will land. However, light is visible for at least 5 hours a day. Sunlight increases over 45 minutes each day, just one of the many wonders of the North.
Expectations can be a killer, we'll do our best to be realistic and adapt to whatever happens. We expect to travel only 2 to 4 miles, maybe less, each day during the first 10 days of the expedition. Cold, darkness and gigantic fields of ice rubble make travel very slow. We need to be patient with ourselves, our bodies and our equipment. -40°F makes plastic very fragile.
Our mission is to ski unsupported to the North Pole, but more importantly enjoy the journey along the way.