Thursday 9th April, Day 12

We were still walking with Roger and James from Team Standard Life. We tried to leave them behind, but they doggedly kept up with us. As we were going ahead we came across and Italian guy, we met in Resolute Bay, who was attempted to be the first Italian to walk solo and unsupported to the magnetic North Pole. He had been following the tracks of one of the other teams but had lost them. When we met up with him, I realised that the alpine felt hat we had picked up earlier may belong to him. When I mentioned the hat to him I was greeted with a very metro sexual kiss on both cheeks and a lot of gratitude.

We came across our first polar bear tracks today, two types actually. One where the imprint had sunk into the snow, and later on we came across inverted snow prints. The inverted snow prints occur when the polar bear has walked on soft snow and crushed the snow into ice, and the wind afterwards blows the soft snow away, leaving the hardened impressions of the polar bear’s footprint raised up in ice.

Polar Bear Footprint

Polar Bear Footprint

We tried to do the 22 nautical miles. We only managed 12. Up until lunch the weather was great, visibility was great. As the afternoon came, the visibility became a lot more occluded and the wind picked up. It eventually became so difficult that by 4pm we had been caught up by Roger and James, we had the Italian with us, and we decided we had to camp together for safety. The wind had gone up to 50 km/h and it was a complete whiteout, a whiteout being unable to distinguish between the sky, the horizon and the ground. It was almost impossible to tell where up and down was. In fact your eyes think the snow is sloping upwards and when you try to walk, your legs is telling your brain the snow is sloping downwards, even though the surface is flat. This causes a lot of confusion and falls in the snow. On top of that, wearing the goggles blurred the vision and it became a very lonely experience walking along with the wind battering us. In the end we had to camp 9.6 nautical miles from the checkpoint, which was a big disappointment, as we had hoped to reach checkpoint 1 by today.

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