Our 42 hour confinement to our tents was ended today as the storm eased up enough for us to continue north. Our drift over the storm took us further west than we wanted to the 129th Longitude. We ran into many open leads and had to wait until the ice moved back together allowing us to cross. It was incredible to witness and very scary to cross. We gained about 5 miles north today but our progress was halted by thin ice. We made camp and will wait till morning to try and cross.
Needless to say that in the north polar icecap there is very little to smell. No plants and so few animals a person would be lucky to see anything this far north. The fact that polar bears were sighted on our first day is rare indeed. With this there is an absence of smells except, of course, the daily dog doodies which occur often when we are underway. They are very efficient and excel doing their job while under a full trot. With this said, with us being stranded in our tiny little tent for close to 40 hours I can, with very little doubt, say with full, unbridled confidence, that the north polar icecap was not without smells. We were ripe.
Our plans to maintain some semblance of civilized etiquette by cleaning ourselves was thrown out the window when met with such unrelenting cold. Our baby wipes sat at the bottom of our bags, a frozen block of unusable hygiene. We decided late yesterday afternoon to exit our sleeping bags and tidy up the tent since the previous nights Sweet and Sour Pour incident had yet to be adequately cleaned and the roof of our tent was coated with a frozen layer of our exhaled breath. We had not run the stove all day as we were comfortable in our bags and we preferred to save the fuel for an extended stay. This meant every big gust of wind would send a soft coating of snow down on us all night unless it was cleaned.
Mike was the first to exit his bag followed very quickly by me. I am not certain if the smell that hit me was from me, Mike or some grisly mixture of sweat, spilled food, dog doo-doo, unwashed bodies or the lack of deodorant, but whatever it was, it was rank.
We both knew better than to assign blame as the mixture had the potential to become offended and take on a life of its own striking us both down. We both put our heads down and immediately started to clean hoping to finish the cold task as quickly as possible and to return to our smell free haven inside our own bags. I now feel completely safe from polar bears as no living thing would dare to consider us a food source.
This also got me to thinking of an invention Mike had devised early in our expedition. His plan was to utilize a mesh bag to hold all his layers of clothing inside his sleeping bag each night so they would dry and he would not have to fumble around inside his sleeping system each morning looking for each article of clothing. I must admit, upon first hearing this idea I thought it a good one and immediately started to look for a bag of my own. When I failed to find one, Mike let me know in no uncertain terms that he was better than me because he had a mesh bag and I did not. I giggle now when I think of the colossal failure of the new invention.
Our first night on the ice saw Mike stuffing every article of clothing into his new mesh bag invention as he gleefully announced to Robert and I that his new product was about to revolutionize polar travel. We watched amazed as he stuffed layer after layer into his bag and were spellbound as the mesh bag expanded to accommodate each item. Silently we cheered him on as he proudly attempted to shove the oversized bag into his sleeping bag. He kicked it and shoved it, silently cursing as his bag slowly and painfully began its decent into his sleeping bag. Success!
High fives were passed around as if we just witnessed a great discovery. Our glee had blinded us to the one major flaw which was still undiscovered. A round of coco was served up as a poor substitute for champagne as we recounted to each other the scattering of emotions each of us felt as the plan came together. We had witnessed our Alexander Bell "Watson come here" moment.
Mike then began to slide his body into his sleeping bag proud of his accomplishment, only to discover his sleeping system had room for his new invention which was the size of seven basketballs or his body, not both. His mesh bag now resides nightly outside his sleeping bag as a symbol of a potentially great idea that failed to work.