Today we hit 89 degrees, no, not the temperature but 89 degrees north. We are now a little less than one degree away from the North Pole. We have traveled over 60 miles north from our start point. Keep in mind, this does not include any traveling we did moving every other direction to get around open leads, ice boulder fields, or pressure ridges, needless to say we have accomplished alot in the past 6 days (or was it 7 days? Hard to keep track).
We are expecting one resupply to get us more fuel and food for the dogs, but we have a great team and everyone is motivated to push hard and get to the pole. If we keep pushing, we should get to the pole earlier than expected. But..... This is the arctic and anything could happen to slow us down setting us back a few days.
Mike and I were commenting today about the alien feel of this place, it is strangely quiet except for the sounds of our skis, sleds and dogs. The look of it is ever changing with open rivers, called leads, popping up in front of you and pressure ridges in the distance looking like mountains miles away only to end up being a tiny block of ice that you pass by in minutes. It is peaceful, majestic and breathtaking, anyone would be in awe.
Sadly, much of this majesty is interrupted by Mike and I passing by it having spirited yet playful debates over everything from which ice ridge will be our home for the night to who is the true arctic expert. Basically the sled needs two people to operate efficiently in this environment as it can often tip over when crossing ice or drifts, or needs someone to deal with the dogs while the other rides the brake. It is a lot of work that forces us to work and live together every hour of the day.
We currently have a brewing Cold War over the limited, yet highly valuable, 24 inch by 6 inch platform we are forced to stand on each day. I insist that Mike is taking much more of the space than he is entitled. Mike, on the other hand, feels that as long as his hands or feet do not cross the middle, which we have dubbed the 39th parallel, he is abiding by the treaty we established early, feeling that his upper body violating the dividing line is not constituted as my airspace.
This war was escalated after crossing a particularly dicey area of ice. The sled was violently slammed around flinging Mike through the air like a rag doll into a snow drift. I, of course, kept my ground and rode the sled through.
Mike, upon picking himself off the ground, returned to the sled demanding that I violated the treaty by elbowing him off the sled in a greedy attempt to gain more space. This was escalated further when I stopped to adjust my boots and I heard an excited "Yeehaaa" as Mike commanded the dogs to sprint away leaving me alone on the Polar Icecap.
We have a current cease fire with serious thoughts of installing barb wire down the middle of the sled. We will keep you updated on the results of the negotiations.