by John Huston
This is John calling. Today, Day 14, March 15th, we traveled for 8 hours and 30 minutes today, covered 3.2 hard-earned nautical miles. Temperature in the morning was -36. This evening it warmed up to -26, however, we have a pretty stiff 10-knot wind blowing out of the west that's been with us all day. It's probably picked up, or at least felt like it picked up, in the evening as we are camped in a pretty open area.
Today we crossed 2 leads and traveled across a bunch of old sea ice, with kind of small 1 to 2 meter snow dunes that made it difficult to ski over and also due to the overcast skies, we had lots of low contrast and poor visibility. These snow dunes appear flat, so you kind of run into them and they are not flat and require quite a bit of effort to pull our sleds over.
So around 3 o'clock, Tyler and I skied in what can only be described as a small town of different sea ice formations, all sorts of sizes of rubble, shoebox size, soccer ball size, all the way up to gigantic small building size piled 4 stories tall, formations of ice. It was an absolutely incredible place. And as we skied into this with our pulks, it felt like we were entering a small urban area.
We didn't know how long we would be there, and after some scouting, we realized that we would probably be there for a few hours because this was a joining together or a smashing together of 2 old multi-year ice pans that due to the forces of the Arctic Ocean at some point must have just had some massive crushing and grinding going on and upheaval and this was the result. We named this area "The Colossus", and we spent the next 2-½ hours navigating through The Colossus, first with our small pulks, as they're pretty easy to maneuver. It was kind of almost like mountaineering with a sled behind you. And then together with 2 people on one big pulk at a time to get the larger pulks through the maze. We were able to let go of being in a hurry. We put in our time everyday and we do the best we can. We put in our most effort, and we can only go so quickly, so that mindset allowed us to enjoy the experience and we really felt like little kids in some gigantic playground. I mean if this ice formation area, The Colossus, was in Illinois, it would probably be a little national park.
So we both left with a feeling of strong teamwork, having helped each other through, and a feeling of complete wonderment of having been through such an area that not too many people get to see and that is an example of the power of nature and the power of the Arctic Ocean. It was truly beautiful as well. We got a bunch of photos. After that we skied across a new pan of ice, windswept, and camped behind a little hummock to try to get out of the wind.
It was a good day. We left with a high feeling. We talked to our families and loved ones, which is also a big thing to look forward to every Sunday. We did our surveys for Gloria Leon and the psychological research which we do every Sunday as well.
I would like to give a big hello to all the families and people at CaringBridge who are watching our expedition. CaringBridge.org offers free personalized private websites to individuals and families in health crisis, illness, and treatment, and it allows people to communicate through the Internet to hospital rooms and recovery areas. It provides a special mental support to people in those sorts of crises. Anybody can use CaringBridge at any time in their life, so keep that website in mind, www.caringbridge.org. And we are also trying to raise $100,000 for CaringBridge, so you can go to our website, www.northpole09.com and check out more information about that.
OK, thanks for listening, and more coming tomorrow.
Daily Expedition Data
Date: March 15, 2009
Location: N83° 46.166' W074 18.091'
Time Traveled: 8 hours 30 minutes
Distance Traveled: 3.2 nautical miles
AM Temperature: -36°F
PM Temperature: -26°F
Wind: ~10 knots out of the West