Toby and John in the storm

by John Huston

We’re about halfway through the expedition now, so it’s time for another installment of fun expedition stats and facts. But first a quick wrap up of what’s taken place over the last 2 days.

We’ve kind of been on the border of spring really popping on this expedition and it’s been very warm. Sometimes we’re skiing only in our long underwear tops and with our pants fully unzipped and ventilated on the side zips. But yesterday afternoon we got hammered by a good storm; we haven’t had a big blow like that on the trip. Visibility dropped to basically zero; we had a lot of trouble seeing in front of us. And winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots from the northwest, so we called it a day right after the first march, and took our time carefully putting up the tents and staking out the dogs, making sure nothing blew away. So, it was a loud night in the tent because it was getting battered by winds, but it all was safe. It gets your adrenaline up a little bit when you’re working in conditions like that.

Tent going up in the storm

Today we entered Nansen Sound for the first time, this huge body of water that leads out to the Arctic Ocean and our furthest north point that we’re heading towards called Land’s Lokk, which is also Otto Sverdrup’s furthest north point and a special destination for us. We’ll tell you more about that later. Ski conditions were totally awesome and we are out in the middle of the sound and looking at mountainous cliffs on two horizons to the northeast and to the south.

Hugh organizes camp

OK, here come some expedition stats from the first half of the expedition:

• Total distance traveled so far – 284.4 nautical miles

• Number of bears seen – only 2
• Number of wolves – 35, including 12 around Eureka repeatedly
• Number of Arctic foxes we’ve seen – 5
• Number of seals – that would be 8
• Number of musk ox is 31.

• Number of 32-gigabyte memory cards full of video and photo so far – 17. Good job, Kyle.

• Most common water source early on in the trip – snow, preferably very dense snow blocks from wind-packed snow berms
• Most common water source lately is chipped pieces of ice from old sea ice blocks and/or icebergs.
• OK, and what we do with that water, number of liters of water drank per person per day -
-John, myself, I drink about 4 ½ liters. I need a lot of water or I turn into a useless grump.
-Toby, he drinks 2.5 liters per day, but sometimes he drinks only half a liter. I don’t know how he does that.
-Kyle, he drinks 3 liters and Hugh does as well, 3 liters for him, too.
• The biggest eaters lately would be myself and also Hugh. Again the North American stomachs are far outperforming these small European stomachs across the tent here.

• OK, typical dog/skijor arrangement from front to back is Elle, and then Napu, followed by Larry and last in line is Axel. The people kind of shift around, but those dogs more or less stay in the same position.
• The dog who is best at lying on its back with paws up for long periods of time at random points during the day would be Elle.
• The dog with the biggest head is Larry, no contest, and he has a mouth that’s almost as big as his head. We’ll have more about little Larry coming up; he’s a fun, special dog.

• OK, typical hours traveled per day is 7. We take time to film and walk on the land sometimes, and things like that, so that’s why the hours traveled are relatively small compared to other like North Pole or South Pole expeditions.
• Number of liters of fuel used per day for the whole team is about 1.2 liters.
• Hours we run our MSR stoves every day is about 4, plus or minus.

• The current champion of the team quiz is Kyle, and Hugh is a very close second up to this time. We make quizzes for each other that are humorous and entertaining about once every two weeks.

• Most distance covered in a day is 16 nautical miles, on the day we arrived into Eureka with very light sleds, awesome ski conditions.
• Our shortest distance covered in a day is 3.8 nautical miles and that happened yesterday in about 4 hours of travel and the storm hit and we called it a day.

• OK, favorite hand wear, what we were on our hands during the travel day –
-Toby, is the Steger Expedition Mitts.
-Kyle, also the Steger Expedition Mitts.
-Hugh, he likes the Devold Wristlets, which are like sweater wrists that go around the thumb, back of the hand, front of the hand and part of the wrist.
-And myself, John, I like my old cross-country ski gloves that I grabbed as I left town just on a whim, so I’m glad about those.
• Most common outer shell layer worn lately is the Bergan’s Microlight Jacket. It’s very lightweight, it’s got a hood, it breathes super well, and it also blocks some of the wind.

• We like to take hikes on land, whenever we can, to get up high, see the views, see what Sverdrup and his men would have seen and look for animals and that sort of thing. So we’ve done that 13 different times; it’s quite enjoyable.

• As you may know we had a pack of 12 wolves raid camp while we were in Eureka talking to the staff away from camp with our dogs. The casualties of that wolf raid were -
-My lunch bag full of chocolate truffles and nuts and butter and bacon.
-My spoon which was in that lunch bag; I have two, thank goodness.
-Hugh’s Thermarest was stepped on by a wolf and got a puncture, so it had to be replaced by a backup one out of our resupply.
-And here, my lunch bag where it was stored in the tent vestibule, there is now what we call it, a bite mark. So our Bergans Wiglo Tent has been bitten by a wolf, but it’s all right.

• OK, wrapping it up here, number of minutes per march and per ski session is about 90.
• We have about 15 minutes for every break.
• Normal ski conditions lately have been totally awesome, light snow cover, a few softer berms here and there, a few sastrugi to ski over, but very, very good ski conditions. We love it.
• And the number of days until this expedition reaches its completion is only 33. And it seems like it’s going to go very fast for us out here on the ice.

Ok, thanks for listening everybody.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: 5/3/13, Day 34
Location: 80°30'N, 87°54'W
Traveled: 5.25 hours, 10.5 miles
Temperatures: N/A am, 2°F pm