Elevation: 1351 metres
Only 522km to go! Sled is getting lighter every day... I must be down 20 kg since the start... I'll be flying soon!
A gruelling, but productive two days behind me.... The human being likes routine and I had just settled down into my daily sleep, eat ski, routine, and then yesterday's bad light visibility gave me no option but to change things. It all came so sudden, one moment I was in clear blue skies, then within minutes the fog had moved in and I had to deal with this dull grey atmosphere that blends seamlessly with the ice. You can't make out bumps and humps, and it all feels very eerie. It's debilitating trying to ski in the rough sastrugi terrain I was in, as you stumble and fall almost each step. I'd been going so well, it was 3.5 into the day's marching and I'd already mentally banked the day's record... That's whaat happens, hey, when one makes assumptions: 'Mother Nature' turns around to show you who is in charge!
Anyway, it was eventually the sun that pushed me across the line to stop and take a 5-6 hour rest. There was a very dull sun coming through the fog, but enough to provide depth perspective when facing the sun... I was going away from it. Here where I am the sun basically goes around in a full circle, almost the same angle to the horizon the whole 24hr cycle. It's quite bizarre at first, but in preparing for the North Pole, I spent time REALLY understanding why, and if you don't it's quite a worthwhile exercise. It may also take you to the significance of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, they are both defined by 24 hour sun criteria....! Ok, so I got distracted:
Well knowing that even if the fog didn't lift, 5-6 hours later the sun would start being in front of me, so the visibility from my perspective would be 100% better. Better still the fog might have lifted, so it seemed like a theoretical no-brainer. How to get my body clock to accept the plan with minimal resistance was the practical challenge.
Anyway, it all worked out great, other than today feeling like a particularly punishing day, after just 3 hours sleep last night.
Yesterday I also reached the point called Thiel corner. Now clear of the mountains, I could make a 30 degree easterly 'turn' to start heading almost direct south for the South Pole. Just one more crevasse area to be detoured around, but that's 250 km off still.
The area I have been skiing in the past two days appears to be an old crevasse field, with 150-200 metre crevasses covered with hard snow/ice running 90 degrees to the direction of my travel. These provide great flat ski surfaces, and a little bump to ski down, once you are over the hump up to it. Now and again the ice underneath lets out a load groan as it resettles somewhere under where me and my sled have caused some weight stress. It was a bit spooky to start with, but know I understand it, it's not a problem.
The weather today has been amazingly warm (I'd say -10C at the very coldest) , no wind, but a bit of the dreaded fog. Lots of nunataks, and like last night I'm camped right opposite about 5 mountain peaks just sticking through the ice, maybe 1-200 metres above the surface ice... Pretty cool!
It was great to connect back to my usual heart dinner again, I missed my dinner time in my little tent last night, it's really cosy, and starting it off with a whisky cocktail sets the atmosphere for a 4 course dinner that ends with 'muscle milk for dessert... Very important for recovery from the day's work.
My feet are very sore, not sure exactly what the problem is, but tomorrow I'll be plastering my toes up to try and help. Noot whingeing, just giving you the whole picture....!
Looking forward to my 6.5hrs sleep now...