Date Monday 6th April, day 9
Location Resolute Bay
I had a very late night Sunday trying to finish off all my affairs, before the actual expedition started today. We had a lot of final things to arrange but the main thing on my mind was my suitability in this environment, my suitability to survive and complete this expedition.
After the misunderstanding and discussions with my teammate JP as well as the cold injuries I suffered on Sunday, my confidence was at a very low point and my belief that I would even be able to start the expedition was shaken. We realised it was essential to set small but achievable goals to build up my confidence. This may seem like kidology, but in the psychology of moral and teamwork, it was essential and perhaps transparent that it worked. We set very small goals, walk for half an hour, have a break, walk for half an hour, have a break. During each break have a little bit of food and something to drink. We aimed to do six nautical miles, but in fact managed to walk 8 nautical miles in 5 hours, which was pretty good. We carried on until dark just before seven o’clock where we decided to pitch camp. The reason we stopped fairly early was to set up camp during relatively warm hours.
The whole day we had been given safety briefs about all the potential hazards such as wandering off in a completely white environment you can easily become disoriented, not being able to find back to your tent. Whiteouts; which is when you get stuck in bad weather with low visibility and you can’t see the horizon hence not tell the difference between the sky and land – there is no distinction on the horizon. On top of that comes dehydration, weather, first aid, but also some of the more particular ones such as polar bears, falling through the ice, and cold injuries; frost nip, frost burn and frostbite, some of which we had suffered already.
If you have ever seen the magicians that spin plates, then you know they have a long cane, balanced on one end is a plate. They spin the plate, and then they do it with another one, and another one, until they have multiple plates balancing and spinning. Each time they spin a new plate, they have to go back to the first plate to ensure that it is still spinning and check-up on all the others. Every day is like that walking. It’s a constant adjustment with heat, equipment, clothing, ski bindings, ski poles and gloves. There is a constant balance in pain management, and a constant balance in heat management. Always adjusting. Always checking. Are your feet all right? Can you feel your fingers? Can you feel your toes? Is your nose okay? Are your ears okay? Is your face okay? Is your body going too hot? Then you move onto is your knee working? Is your knee hurting? Are your ankles hurting? Are your shoulders hurting? And then you start again. Constantly going through each little checklist mentally as you walk. Remembering what one moment of negligence can result in.
EXTRA INFO: Frostnip usually affects areas that are exposed to the cold, such as the cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, and toes, leaving them red and numb or tingly and causes your skin to appear yellow or white. Frostnip is a relatively mild cold injury, whereas frostbite leaves permanent damage if not treated with immediate emergency. Frostbite is, literally, frozen body tissue. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from your heart. It can cause nerve damage due to lack of oxygen, your skin gets waxy and hard and turns purplish at first, and black soon after.