We are now safe and snug in our tents at the Isaachsen weather station. More to come on that later.
The day began as the rest. Up at 6:30 am. Spark the stove. Eat, drink and pack. The wind had been high all night and the constant flapping of the tent made it difficult to sleep. Ear plugs helped a bit. Most of us find we fall asleep quickly around 9 pm because we are so tired and will sleep well until about 2. Then it is off and on for the rest of the night.
The wind was not too bad as we packed the tents and the sun peaked through the clouds enough to cast a shadow. The wind had shifted direction and would once again be just off our port bow striking us in the face all day.
Visibility was good and I could see our destination 17km away across the frozen sea. It is amazing how much distance one can travel by foot given enough time. What was once just a shape on the horizon would loom huge in front of us after 5 hours of skiing.
As we travelled the wind picked up in intensity and was soon blasting us full force. It was so strong that it slowed our forward progress and I had to put my full ski skins on to combat the force. If this wind were at our backs, we would cover our daily distance in no time. But alas it was not.
The tempest increased to the point it was blowing us around. It was quite strong but it was a relatively warm wind, so the wind chill was not an issue. We were hoping to lose the wind when we got in the lea of the mountain, but instead it just changed direction and instead of being slightly from the side it has head on in our face.
The surface was quite smooth today as it is constantly scoured by the driving Arctic winds. As we got closer to our destination the wind had blown most of the snow off the ice and we were crossing the most beautiful blue ice.
After about 5 hours we saw our goal in sight. Although we had made it to the Pole yesterday we wanted to make it to the old Isaachsen weather station. Our pilots also wanted us to come here as there is an old airstrip and they like the safety of this over landing on the ice.
This station was built in 1948 as an early warning station and weather station similar to others across the Arctic. The base was closed in 1978 and the basically just walked away. Everything is as it was in 1978. We have only explored a little so far. There are about 20 buildings including a huge garage with about 10 vehicles in it (2 bulldozers, several tractors, and a few dump trucks), there is a mechanic area with a truck mid service with the hood still up. There is a barracks, about 10 snow cats, and several office and maintenance type buildings. It is quite fascinating and I am glad we made the effort to get here.
Our first pick up flight will be about 10 tomorrow morning and the next about 4-5 hours later. It will be nice to sleep in a bed, change my clothes, have a shower and eat non freeze dried food.
It has been a difficult trip but very satisfying. More on that from the comfort of Resolute.
Good night from the ice.