Sunday 19th April, Day 22
The wind today is 20km/h from northwest, with temperatures around -22°C. Today was even worse than the day before. We only managed to walk 7 nautical miles, which is about 20 less than what we should be capable of. The morning started pretty badly and I really was not interested. As soon as I woke up I realized I just didn’t want to be at the North Pole, I really didn’t want to get out of the tent and walk to the North Pole anymore. We did 2 miles per hour for the first hour, which was great progress and with that speed we would have been at checkpoint 2 by lunchtime. However we hit rubble and that rubble meant that we only covered 5 nautical miles in the next eight hours. At one point we spent an hour doing a big u-turn in the middle of a rubble field. We walked on the coastline out into the rubble, through the rubble, then decided that we weren’t able to walk out through it. Consequently we did a big u-turn and walked all the way back through it once again, getting back to the coast. So after one hour we ultimately only made it 400m closer to our objective. We walked through what could be described as a very small frozen river, which was next to the coastline. It was flat, but slush – not quite ice, not quite water, but more like a slush ice cream. In Middle Eastern terms it can best be described as quick sand. It wasn’t strong enough to hold you up, but it wasn’t going to let you sink either. So we walked through slush on our skis. It was very scary, because there were no guarantees. Every time we started to sink in the slush, there was always the fear that perhaps this wasn’t just slush, perhaps it was water straight underneath, and as they say; if you get wet, you die. But we walked through the slush a long-time and made much better progress than we had earlier in the day.
Today I was feeling beside myself, I felt unable and unwilling to help myself, let alone others. At one point one of my other team members was trying to go across the slush and actually fell in. Another member tried to help and come to their rescue, but also became entangled in the slush. Despite my previous feelings, as soon as I saw one of my friends struggling, I found all the energy needed to come to rescue. It took me a little while to realize and recognize the danger, because they were so far ahead. There were at least 3 people between me and the people caught in the slush ahead, but as soon as I saw my friends in danger, I dropped my ski poles to get there as quick as possible, and actually arrived before the people ahead of me.
We then had two potential cold injuries within the team and we had to spend a little time making sure their feet and everything else was dry. We tried to walk along the coast of island Kate Lady Franklin, thinking that even though it was going in the slightly wrong direction, it would be easier to walk along the coast going west, to avoid rubble fields as much as possible. In the end of the day we had only walked 7 nautical miles and ended up giving up and camping for the night with only 11.6 nautical miles to go to checkpoint 2. 11.6 nautical miles should normally be a 4 to 6 hours walk, but with a day like today, checkpoint 2 could still be 2 days away with the wrong weather and wrong terrain.