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Expedition for Opportunity Travel Log 9 - Trek Day 7- On Point

April 19th, 2016


Expedition for Opportunity Travel Log 9 - 4/19/16 – Trek Day 7 - On Point 

I was so excited to complete this journey that I could hardly sleep. The ice plate we were camped on last night seemed to share my excitement as it shifted under us. It was an odd and frightening sensation. I could feel the tents drifting as I tried to sleep. I imagine its kind of like what an earthquake feels like. 

Today was totally awesome and magical! Our day started with a 5:30 AM wake up call. Colin and I slept for an extra 15 minutes because we're so dialed in. It used to take us 2 hours to cook, eat and pack to get out of the tent. Today it took us just 45 minutes. We read and wrote in our journals while waiting for the others.

Today's safety briefing was the most concise yet. Eric doesn't want us thinking about the Pole too much. He reminds us to stay focused, becoming complacent in the last few miles is sure-fire way to get into trouble. The team cheer was another gem today. I will surely miss these. We set off, into the stark white landscape, to find the point that says 00-00-00 on our GPS, the North Pole!

The pole has protected herself very well from our incursion. From the outset, our route was littered with all kinds of obstacles. The leads, pressure ridges, sastrugis, cracks and ice blocks all seem bigger, taller, wider, deeper and longer. The pole would not make this trek easy for us. She was going to make us earn every mile. Normally it would take just over 2 hours to cover the less than 3 nautical miles. Today it took about 3.5.  

We're so close to the pole that walking 50 meters in any direction puts us in a different time zone. It's impossible to use the sun for navigation here. It's position constantly deviates  from one moment to the next. The intensity of the sun was so strong that I couldn't look into it, even with protective goggles. The moon was nowhere to be found now, maybe it was behind the clouds.

The environment is still fascinatingly beautiful. I can’t stop looking around and enjoying the sights. This is why I don't listen to music while trekking. I want to be able to see, feel, and become fully immersed in the environment around me. My only regret of the trip is not being able to take more pictures, but these images are indelibly pressed into my brain.

After what seemed like an eternity, we had reached our goal. We were all standing on the Point - The North Pole!!! It looked the same as everything else around us. About 25 meters from the Pole Eric stopped us. We all lined up and walked around in circles together trying to find the exact point. We laughed as we bumped into each other and comically stepped on each other's skis. We took pictures as best we could. My fingers were freezing cold, the sensation was awful.

The real adventure started after our polar celebration. We set out to make the 400 meter trek over to meet the Norwegian team. They had been dropped off with us and reached the Pole ahead of us. As we traversed a few fissures and cracks, we could hear the ice making odd noises and muffled water splashing below. Eric was standing on top of a 30 meter wide block of ice when suddenly the entire ground around us started moving at a rapid speed. The ice was cracking, and all kinds of crazy things were going on. Eric jumped off the moving ice block onto a shifting ice floe. We all scurried away and watched in amazement as the ice violently tore apart. It was mind blowing! The Arctic didn't want to let us go just yet. We stayed on the unstable patch of ice until Eric was able to find a dicey crossing spot. Eric started barking frantic instructions to hurry, be safe, step only on solid ice, etc.  We quickly ferried the sleds through. For good measure, Julia stepped right into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Luckily Eric was able to quickly grab her. We were happy to be on the other side and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. 

Shortly after crossing, we met up with the Norwegian team.  We hadn't seen them or their tracks since the second day. As it turns out, we were ahead of them the whole time. In order to make it to the Pole before us, they trekked 12 hours the previous day, camped for 4 hours and trekked all night from midnight to 7 AM! They told us that they crisscrossed our tracks the entire time.

Surely, you're all waiting to hear about Bobsled. We continued our harmonious relationship today.  When I greeted her this morning, she referred to me as polar man. I took it as a compliment. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine, er, I meant to say, I was on top of the world! I told Bobsled that I feel really good and could probably challenge Bode Miller. She said she didn't know him, but she's sure I could challenge bottom of the mill skiers if I give up my snowboard. She's getting funny and faster! Bobsled also said that I should take her to Jamaica and get her tricked out for the pushcart race. She is sure that she could win. I told her it was too hot for her and she said that has nice bikini bathing suits. Bobsled is applying for a passport and US visa... More to come.

Emilia, this Point's for you. I have missed you!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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