Our blog is full of lots of posts about how Mark and I joke around to pass time on the dogsled. Not today. Today was brutal. Coldest day yet. It was at least minus 30 Fahrenheit and the wind was howling. There was very little talking other than to confirm that all of our fingers and toes were working.
The ice was flat but if you rode the sled, you frooze. Our boots are rated to negative 145 degrees. It did not help. The cold brought a cease fire to the war for limited space on the sled because we had to take turns running next to the sled all day to stay warm. We covered 12 miles. It was a challenge to keep your mind focused. The cold zaps your ability to think.
When we hit camp and set up the stove, Mark tossed a cup of boiling water in the air. It turned to steam. It is so cold that the only thing you can put your hand in are massive over mittens but you have no dexterity. When we stop for breaks, you have to drink. In order to do this you need to change gloves. Even a few seconds of exposed hands turns your hands numb. Our stove is shut off at night and we sleep in mummy bags. If you leave your Thermos of water out of the bag, it turns to a block of ice.
Unfortunately normally bodily functions are not deterred. If you have to go, you have to go. All you can do is try and go quick and endure. One of our dogs was struggling today. So we have a new tent mate tonight. He is quite happy. People ask us why we would want to go through all this stuff.
Both Mark and I agree. It is not just for the goal of reaching the pole. Believe it or not. It's for days like today. We both agree today was the most physically challenging thing we have ever done in our lives. We both love the challenge. Someone once said, until you fail, you do not truly know what your limits are. We are glad we did not fail today. It's kinda strange.
Mark and I are two guys who grew up in Iowa, being led by two Midwest guides. Our guide Maher pointed out that while today was tough, the four of us are on the longest dogsledding trip to the North Pole this year and the two degree distance has only been done less than 10 times on dogs. We planned on 18 days on the ice. Today was day 6. We are moving at a blazing pace. We are only 40 miles away. The arctic is unstable and lots of things could derail us but at this pace we will hit the pole in 11 days. We are gunning hard.