We had a layover due to bad weather again (snow and high wind, zero visibility). Timing was ideal for a much needed rest, addressing polar hack (cough due to dry cold air), mild cold injury and muscle fatigue.
Did some arts and crafts – well Dale and Ian did, under Taylor’s quality control and my sarcasm, helping reinforce a shield down from the goggles to protect our faces from wind/cold (sewing and duct tape involved).
Left camp a bit ahead of schedule and pushed down the gut of a steady 40 kph headwind with higher gusts. Greenland looked like my worst 70’s disco dry ice nightmare extravaganza memory, with blowing snow to knee and mid thigh, giving the appearance of ‘constant ground in motion’.
We did 3 pushes and then called it. 17.1 km, 8005 feet elevation (when is the ** damn top???). Hard to describe temperature. Likely -15 and with windchill?-40??
Set camp, all hands on deck, one tent at a time, given wind, and now safely tucked in. All fingers and toes accounted for.
Dogs are seemingly impervious! Julius and Salo stayed within visual contact throughout the day, though as I got tired they began to look more and more like a mirage.
About 29 km, altitude 7874 ft. Started in the clouds for the first 1.5 hrs, then it cleared up. Wind picked up over our left shoulder- kind of a crosswind.
As per Nansen who was the first European to cross Greenland in 1888, we of course have had no chance to wash up on this trip.
His excuses, which I wholly support, were:
1. They only boiled a small amount of water each day to conserve fuel.
2. Thirst was overwhelming. So they decided to drink the little water they made rather than using it to wash.
3. The option of washing first and hen drinking that water was unappealing.
4. Washing at -30 ~<>>#%^^*!!!! ain’t a treat.
5. Sun exposure while washing, not minor, the sun is merciless.
6. Time. Not a lot of extra time to spend on frivolous pleasures.
Wow! -10, light crosswind, not a cloud in sight. We did 30.2 km to an altitude of 7530 ft. Tough work but strong team. Tomorrow we may crest the glacier, weather permitting. Michelin 2 star bacon and cheese quesadilla a la Eric, followed by spicey Italian sausage pasta! (In a bag).
Feet are doing well. Using the guides system. Sock, then plastic bag, then boot. That way no moisture gets into the boot, and your boot isn’t frozen the next day. Nasty on the feet to spend the day in a plastic bag, but hey?
Took a while to dig out of camp. On trail 930. Skied 29 km, at 7250 elevation, into a cross/head wind gusting to 25-30 kph. I remain as alway so amazed at Dale, so incredibly strong #myhero. Almost 20 years post heart transplant!!
Made camp beside the dogs and listened to their braying as they got fed. Spectacular beasts led by Salo, a legend in Greenland; and Julius. Cooking up spaghetti in a bag that won’t expire till 2047. Yum! Shout out to Outdoor Research for making exceptional gear!!
Still stormbound. This one is a real MF. My side of the tent is snow buried half way up the wall. Somehow the wind played tricky dickey with the vestibule zipper blowing in such a way as to open the zip, creating havoc in the vestibule. Didn’t believe it was possible until I actually witnessed the wind open the zip.
Spirits are good. Everyone safe. This is supposed to break later today. We will then dig out and hopefully ski tomorrow.
We awoke knowing that a big wind storm was coming in today, bigger than previous. So we started construction on a bigger wall with buttresses. Crazy huge.
Post wall we visited Dye II station. Our musher Julius was the guide. The place is huge. 5 stories and hundreds of rooms. It was a cross between the x-files, aliens and a post apocalyptic horror show. Even though we had to climb down a steep snow slope and then through a snow tunnel to get in, once in things were in remarkable condition. There is literally food still present, mattresses, magazines and books from the 80’s etc. All because they abandoned it in 6 hrs. The top is a huge radar station. Even weirder it isn’t being used though structurally intact, but the runway is and we saw a big American aircraft take off.
The dogs are remarkably hardy. They may start to learn the running at 6 Mo and then gradually they are put to work. How long they work is dog dependent though Julius has had a dog still mush at 14. During the storm they curled up, looking like little round mounds in the snow. Not a concern in the world!
You can’t make this shit up!! Standard slow day waiting for the arrival of the dogs. When I awoke I thought the best thing about today was going to be clean undies. Man was I wrong!
Glorious day. Went for a walk, read in the tent, passing the time. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. Then after lunch we got a call that we could hitch a ride on the Sikorsky chopper to Dye II. Be ready in 45 minutes. We broke camp at speed.
Our one week anniversary in camp was met with some good news. The dogs are moving toward us again and may be here tomorrow. Which would mean we can start skiing on Wednesday.
Nice day. Sun with some clouds. Small wind gusts but manageable. I’m now out of chocolate. To those who know me, you’ll recognize this is a disaster #needmySOMA.
Went for a good walk around camp today and had to dig out one tent because the wind changed direction and drifted the tent in. Given the wall we built a few days ago nature, abhorring a vacuum, has steadily built the snow up around us providing an optical illusion that we are actually sinking into Greenland’s ice cap! Which of course may be true.
We have now perfected the art of ‘nothing’. Also known in the UK as faffing, we colonials call it futzing. All in all we’ve managed 7 days of it, 3 people plus gear, in a tent the size of a queen bed. Impressive eh?
More of the same tent life. We are hopeful that the dogs will arrive tomorrow night so we can FINALLY get moving. We are trying to ration our food so we have as many days left as possible. It’s a good thing we packed as much as we did.
Storm broke overnight. Eric had been up to dig out the tent about 6 times during the storm. This am it’s calm. We dug out all of our gear and the tents. Dogs were again pinned by weather so we don’t know their arrival but hopefully tomorrow. Overcast flat light today. Since we’ve been longer than expected we have counted out the food and fuel, with some moderation type control, not full rations. We’re still good. The mushers have extra fuel but are low on their food so Eric has calculated all of this into the equation. Of course success will still require Mother Nature to cooperate.