Updates have been a tad delayed recently due to some crazy schedules experienced once we reached the pole.
To be honest, the pole was literally just another point in the snow just like all the millions of other points we passed by the last few weeks. Due to the drifting ice and natural wobble of the earth, the point is very fleeting on any GPS, you have to chase the drift and wobble to remain on it. But for a moment, we were able to walk around the planet and experience every time zone. In a matter of moments I was in the past, present and future, the quickest person to cover the globe. Almost ruler of all.
But, with little sleep and the ever present cold we decided to quickly throw up the tent and keep warm while waiting for the Russians who were coming to pick us up. After all, they operate on their schedule and clocks are not included with that.
As soon as we heard them coming we took down the tent and got things in order, they would not stay for long and their motors and blades would stay on while we loaded all our gear, people and dogs into an already crowded helicopter. It was chaos. The chopper already had the half degree trip (no, we refuse to call that one an expedition), their two sleds and tiny little dogs crammed in the copter. We had people screaming at us in Russian, nervous dogs and the wind from the blades creating a havoc at the end of a very long trip. Maher reminded us that the dogs were ours and we would deal with them, they were our family.
How we crammed all our gear, dogs and sled into that I don't know, but we did. Our team and dogs making a mixture of flesh and equipment several feet off the floor of the helicopter, our heads barely off the ceiling.
Once we arrived at Barneo ice camp the craziness continued. Our dog team was untangled and unloaded. It reminded us of the fall of Siagon. Helicopters were hovering while men and equipment were working to dismantle the camp as the ground it was built on would be breaking apart in weeks. 55 gallon empty fuel barrels scattered the ground, broken down tents and discarded equipment littered the snow.
We got the dogs settled and waited for the word on being able to catch a ride back to Longyearbyen on the soon to arrive plane. It was our only chance to get off the ice before the 22nd. Of course, the initial Russian response was 'No'. We put together the dog crates, unloaded some gear and watched the chaos unfold as the plane arrive, helicopters hover and recieve our standard 'No, no room for you' response.
I took a moment to call home, as it was now a decent hour, and for some reason choked up as i shared the news of us reaching the pole. Not sure why, but I was emotional at our accomplishment. Sure others have done it, we were not the first, furthest, most epic or most extreme, but it was hard, we were tired, and we were all proud of our effort. Funny thing is, I kept this private untill Mike came up to me moments later after his call and told me the same thing. Misery loves company..
After a while, Victor and Rick came to us smiling, we knew we were heading home, well to Longyearbyen at least, but hot showers, real food, soft beds and of course a bathroom.