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  • Story Owner: Mike  Ketchmark
  • Story Title: North Pole
  • Story Created: Monday, March 24, 2014, 11:02:00 PM
  • Chapter Author: Mike Ketchmark
  • Chapter Created: Thursday, April 10, 2014, 4:42:00 PM
  • updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:52:00 PM

In order to prepare for this trip Mark and I went to a 3 day shakedown camp with the guides in January. We spent two nights in a tent at minus 20 Fahrenheit. The guides talked about knowing where all of your gear is at all times. They would say for example to keep your lighter in the same pocket and if you need it, it is there. And as soon as you are done put it back because it lives there. This is crucial in the arctic because we have limited space and you need to keep track of your gear. Too much energy is spent looking for something and if you are freezing you need it right away.

Anyone who knows me, knows my stuff really doesn't live anywhere. It is more nomadic. My laptop might live at work. It might live in the car. It might live on the garage floor. Who knows. I usually don't. I actually have a magic sock drawer at home. I drop dirty socks anywhere and they magically appear clean in my drawer. Our office manager knows what I am like at work. I spend most of my time asking where I left something I need. So needless to say Mark was worried. I was a tornado in our tent at camp. My stuffed lived everywhere. I pledged to do better here but old habits die hard. But the Arctic cold drains your physical and mental energy and exacts a heavy price for not knowing where your gear is at all times.

The first three days were rough and challenging for my VERY almost neurotically organized friend. So I woke up on day 4 and thought I will rule the kingdom of my gear. And I did. I was on my game. Mark was stunned. Instead of being happy I started to poke fun at him for not being able to find his stuff. I would prance about asking everyone to wash their hands and, i am certain, started to speak with a slight British accent. I was king of my domain and proud of it. But the next day i started to slip. It's tough. I would for example get my lighter out to light the stove but accidentally bumped a tea mug so I set the lighter down to deal with that issue and forgot where I put it.

I have a massive set of mittens that live in a massive parka I use on the dogsled. No way to manage the negative 35 degree temp today without these items. They are supposed to live in my backpack. This morning I woke up and they were not there...I panicked. Tore apart my two bags in the tent. Mark left to use the bathroom. When he returned, I was in full panic mode. He opened the tent and everything was living everywhere. In his hand he held my coat and gloves. I asked where they were at. He said last night they lived on the arctic ice. I said man that was stupid. Mark said I don't like calling people names but if by stupid you mean leaving your life sustaining gloves and coat outside in the blowing arctic wind all night was stupid, I would agree...

I am determined to do better. Right now I know where we live. On a floating sheet of ice in a tiny tent less than 55 miles from the North Pole. The goal is in sight....