Temperature: minus 17°C
Distance travelled: 21 km
Today the temperature was -17°C. We had wind from south 30km/h. For the second time the wind was coming from behind us. The previous days were quite boring, but today was a very interesting day. It is very mundane walking and we have no interaction at all, but I got to thinking of a story one of my teachers told me at school. It was about a man taking care of a cactus. He kept watering it every day for seven years, but nothing ever happened. He kept on watering it, looking after it and talking to it every day. Then one day a flower appeared on the cactus, and he thought that was the most beautiful flower he had ever seen. But the reality of the situation, when you really look closely at the flower and compare it to other flowers, it is not that beautiful at all. The flower is only beautiful relatively. It took seven years to grow it and you can only appreciate the beauty of the cactus flower if you have been through seven years of watering and nursing. After seven years of looking at a spiky ugly cactus, you will even appreciate the look of a single humble looking cactus flower. That’s what today felt like. We were walking along in ugly horrible freezing cold ice, and we suddenly came across a piece of rubble that looked like a statue, or animal, very interestingly carved. And although it was very interesting for us, then taking pictures of it, no one else would understand and appreciate the beauty of it, only think; well it is just another piece of ice.
We started walking at 8.45am and ended at 4.45pm. We finished early today because of thin ice and that worried us. Today the high drama of the day was when we saw a seal! Everyone excitedly pointed and shouted and we all gathered and were wondering what we were looking at, as all we could see was a black spot, popping its head up through a hole in the ice, having a look and then back down again. And that was it that was all we could see, that was all we were excited about. After 11 days of walking with plain white snow as far as the eye can see, all it took us to get excited was a black spot 300m away. That was our flowering cactus. However our excitement was short, as seeing a seal means polar bears are normally close by. Seeing a seal also meant very thin ice. The second high drama today, was when one of my teammates fell in the water. There was a lot of thin ice in that area and as a group of us were walking, unfortunately one of the bigger guys managed to put one of his feet through the ice and into the water. In typical English manor he walked up to me and asked me for a favor, and said ‘when we set up tent tonight, I would like to go in earlier so I can warm up my foot’. Feeling a lot stronger today I said ‘of course, yes’. And then I asked why, to which he replied that he had put his foot in the water. At that point I began to panic, as I remember watching the Top Gear program and seeing this guy who lost several of his fingers after putting his hand into the water for only 3 minutes. He got frostbite in all his fingers and lost them. I was really concerned about my teammate, but it seemed to be a concern ahead of time. I felt I had to convince him to stop, change his sock, put a plastic bag over it to prevent any affects from the water, and also to put some foot-warmers into his socks to keep his feet warm. Foot-warmers are small packages of chemicals which when opened activate with the oxygen in the air to create a slow warm feeling. JP reckoned it was a good idea, and after that marched as fast as possible to generate extra heat.
Updates courtesy of polar race:
Another day spent sitting in Resolute while the mechanics try to sort out the problems with the only plane – it is never easy operating up here.
Fortunately the weather was pretty poor though the racers were having better weather nearly 200 miles further north. The reported going was very tough however. Finally at 9 pm the call came through that the plane was ready and the intention is to fly out to Checkpoint 2 at noon tomorrow by which time we expect the leading team “Pole in One” to have arrived at the checkpoint (Cator Harbour) an almost land locked bay on an island off North Bathurst.
We expect another team to arrive tomorrow, Saturday, with the rest coming in on Sunday morning.
Funny how things change. 2 years ago to the day I was in bed in Resolute stricken with a very bad bout of “something or another”. I remember having 3 very miserable days in bed but the team coped admirably in my absence.
They are even better now!
See any Picture / Video by viewing this news item on the polar race website: http://polarrace.com/200 9/news/jock_s_diary
Interview with team Oman courtesy of Polar Race 2009