Here I sit in a nice warm, heated tent that is the ALE dining room here at Union Glacier. Outside, it's a wonderful day outside again... Blue sky, windless conditions, with uniquely beautiful cloud shapes crowning each of the encircling mountain peaks. Just -8 C, so almost 'beach weather again...
I was so tired after the big day and all its related emotions, that I was in bed by 8pm and slept in my little home tent till 7h30 this morning! After 35 days and no doubt a few storms I'll know this tent backwards, and it will be my primary security 'blanket' for all this time. I must look afer it, and I have full confidence it will then protect me.
Last minute preparations have also included dealing with a technical problem associated with getting this Blog and Diary to you. When you think you have tested everything, Sod's law always proves you haven't! Anyway, I think it's solved now!
So "How am I feeling?", I ask myself? This warm weather is a double edged sword: in it's pleasant warmth it has been great for completing the outside chores, and just feeling less harsh and uninviting. On the other side it can lull one into a fase sense of 'All's good, and it'll be easy'. I brief ski will a 20knot wind popped up for an hour hinted at another world, and then listens to stories of what it was like here last week, and the harsh realities hit like the tip of that sword striking a sensitive body part. There is no doubt, there will be horrendous days, and as long as I remember that I can avoid the current warm weather seduction, but just enjoy it's now experience.
I'm finding the need to be bonding and focused with my team (me and myself), quite difficult when Ruth and her team are necessarily doing their team bonding and systems checking. Partly because last time I was doing this with Richard, but a lot is to do with Ruth and I: With last minute chores and training but for different 'teams', our priorities are different, and sometimes leaves me feeling very alone. They check ideas, talk through plans, and I think through all this stuff knowing it's only me who can decide on what's best for my 'team'. In many ways I now just want to get out on the ice now, and face the music in my own zone, where clarity of purpose and thought will enable me to singlemindedly deal with WHATEVER is thrown at me. It's often all to easy to turn to someone else for help or advice, or inspiration. Today as I woke, I imagined how I'd feel in a few days time: 6am alarm, shock awakening, the wind howling outside, but no the 'machine' must not waiver. I need to get straight up, outside for the loo, quickly back in and start yummy pemmican breakfast, then pack up, pull dowwn the tent, pack the sled, and be motivated for another 10hr, 30+ kilometre day! There must be no 'discipline slippage'....I remind myself!
The backpack decision has been made, I'm taking the big one! My sled was too heavy, and moving weight onto my back will help a lot! Also if I take a tumble, I now have a big pack to fall head over heels on! Not a joke: Today I skied over a sizeable hump, and stopped just over its other side to admire the mountains, when next I was cut down at the knees as my sled came thundering down the hillock smashing hard into the backs of my knees. I was sent straight onto the ice, ski's in the air, bum on the ground! What I great video thatt would have made! I just burst out laughing! Silly me...I've forgotten that the sled has a mind of its own and isnt always your friend or eeven in your team! We will bond too, a funny relationship though, as it doesn't fully accepted it clealy submissive role.
I'm really worried about sweat management as in this warmer weather, pulliing the heavy sled rapidly creates body heat, and too many clothes causes sweat which can causing huge freezing problems when one rests. Richard tells me I'm going too fast, and some of that maybe true, so I'll have to feel this out on the run, free of any outside pace pressures! Ruth's team talk as though it's a fact I'll get to the Pole 'many days before them', but I'm not so convinced about that so it forces me to try and live up to the expectation. I guess I also do enjoy 'giving it a good shot', so all this is amounting to a bit of a bad, go fast mindset. I'll be working on pacing myself, as not finishing is 'disaster' prize!
I'm REALLY ready for the time on my own, and expolring this aloneness with crevasse, and the ice environment around. Not sure how I'm going to deal with the cocktail....but I know it's going to be a huge personal experience!
Thanks for all your emails, comments and suppport so far, I have been overwhelmed...It's been just FANTASTIC, and helps me want to share more of my experience with you.
More at the end of Day 1