by Tyler Fish
Hello. This is the update for March 18th. It is day 17 of the expedition. Our day began with wonderful visibility. I stood high on a mound of ice and looked to the north and I was able to see very far, which basically means that the terrain was flat. The further we could see, the flatter the terrain and we like that because it means that we'll be able to go faster. So I was able to do that and see a great distance and I watched John pull away with his two pulks.
Eventually I left and somewhere through the day we crossed 84°. There was no sign, no marker, no boundary, nobody to tell us that we had done it, but we just knew that we had been traveling fast enough and that we had done it and we were very happy about that.
But something did happen today. As I was skiing I noticed ahead of me, not sure how far ahead, I thought made a quarter mile or a half mile, there was a wide white expanse approaching or maybe I was approaching it and I was curious, what was this? Was it 1. A huge frozen lead or other ice formation, something new? 2. Was it a wall of weather coming towards us, perhaps of wind and snow? 3. Perhaps the world actually is flat and I was charging towards the end of the world? I wasn't sure.
Well without speed and also without hesitation, I continued and I got closer and closer, sort of excited and anxious to see what this would be. But then from far away, a small voice in my head sort of woke up, yawned, and said, "Clouds." And sure enough it was the clouds. The clouds and the horizon were playing with me to create an illusion. I was actually not heading towards any white expanse of anything at all. I was just skiing on the snow. So there wasn't anything. It's like when you're driving down a hill in a car and you can make the clouds appear like the ocean or a lake with islands and peninsulas, that sort of thing. Just an illusion.
Shortly thereafter, the visibility steadily decreased and eventually the sun was gone and it was very hard to make out all the ups and downs in the terrain. Even though daylight has increased by an average of, we think, about 45 minutes every day, you still need the sunlight itself for the contrasts in the terrain. So the going was much, much slower. Incidentally, according to our GPS, we now have just over 12 hours of daylight from sunrise to sunset. But because we are so far north, there's actually, if you wake up in the middle of the night, there is still a little light in the sky.
We ended our day with no illusions and we are soundly past 84 degrees, which is our first parallel, our first line of latitude, our first degree north from where we started. We hope the rest of them come quicker and quicker. That's it for now.
Daily Expedition Data
Date: March 18, 2009
Location: N84° 3.749' W074 12.159'
Time Traveled: 9 hours
Distance Traveled: 6.9 nautical miles
AM Temperature: -38°F
PM Temperature: -26°F
Wind: light in the AM, grew stronger
Visibility: great in the AM, grew worse, light snow in PM