Friday, 15 May 2009

NIALL: DAY 22, 14th MAY


Be sure to learn your left from your right for an error in this most simple of tasks may one day prove fatal. So it was this morning for one unfortunate little bird. Wheatears are a common migratory bird who over winter in North Africa and spend their summers frolicking in northern Europe. They fly over the Sahara to Morocco and then over the straights of Gibraltar and onto mainland Spain. Once there they turn right and head for Europe. Unfortunately for Willy the Wheatear he turned left. He must have thought it odd, heading back out to sea again rather than gliding over the plains of Spain. But, ever confident in his sense of direction, he ventured onwards, 4000 miles over the North Atlantic to Greenland. He finally spotted somewhere to shelter, our tent as it happens, and settled down for the night. Unfortunately for Willy, wheatears aren’t adapted to -25C and he never woke up. But one person’s loss is another person’s gain and wheatear shish kebab made a fine change from the normal dehydrated rubbish.
Muzz and I flew out of the blocks today, taking advantage of perfect hauling conditions, nothing up 18.1km on the first two shifts. I tore away on the 3rd shift and really got into the zone. So much so that I only turned around to check Muzz was upright after 25mins, rather than 5 or 10 or so as usual. Unfortunately Muzz wasn’t very close. In fact he was over 2km away, walking in the opposite direction. I unhooked from my pulks and skied back to see what was up. “I’ve lost those RAB mittens,” said Murray, very forlorn and rather upset as they retail for about £200, “unless they’re in my bag.” “Muzz, if they’re in your bag I’m going to punch you in the jaw,” I said, as we’d used up two hours of searching. And guess what, they were in his bag. Poor Muzz looked so relieved that I spared him the concussion and we motored on. I stopped after another 9km shift to wait for Muzz to join me. As he arrived 25mins later he looked at me and said “uh oh”. And I was like, “oh no, what have you done this time, what have you lost, what have you broken.” But his beautifully working ski bindings had sheared in two. So we pulled for two hours with Muzz walking and me hauling 3 pulks. Tomorrow we’re going to screw his boot into the ski and continue on our way. We saw a remarkable thing today – distinctly coastal clouds. We are camped at 67 05.393’N, 48 32.398’W, altitude 1418m, a mere 65km from Point 660 – our official finish line. And we can see the clouds hovering where the sea must meet the land. Tomorrow we will keep our eyes peeled for anything that isn’t white, it may just be the sea. We hauled into a beautiful evening light today, the sun casting shadows over the ice. Murray commented how it made the ice look just like cooled down lava. “Nah mate, looks much more like granite to me”.
Right, I’m just going to go and pick some bits out of my teeth using Willy’s claw and put my head down for the night. Next time I write, well who knows where we’ll be.

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