Wednesday, 13 May 2009

NIALL: DAY 20, 12th MAY


When the end is in sight just make sure you get there. It is true that most expeditions fail in the closing stages and it was just that stage in my Atlantic crossing, with 4-5 days to go, that we were blighted by the weather and forced onto the sea anchor for 75hrs. That is absolutely why Muzz and I need to concentrate fully and not let our guard down. In that way we will ensure that we will have more days like the one we've just had. We set off today at 2093m and descended to 1811m, speeding downhill at an average of well over 4km per hour and notching up 38.3km for the day. The pulks skated over the ice like Torville and Dean and Murray's polar elephants were nowhere to be seen. Tonight's camp at 66 57.449'N, 47 07.183'W sees us 139km from the finish, but we're well aware how cautiously we must proceed from here as both bodies and equipment can still fail.
Two days ago the pump on our stove gave out so we retrieved our spare and low and behold have halved the time it takes us to boil a full pot (which I'm delighted about as it gives me 30mins more sleep in the morning). I made a minor adjustment to my harness recently too. We were advised to wear our hauling harnesses like a belt. But much to Rachels disgust I wear my belts rather like Simon Cowell, up around my belly. Muzz suggested lowering it somewhat to reduce leverage from the pulks and it works a treat. I now look more like 50 Cent than Simon Cowell. Let's see if I return to my old ways upon my return to the UK.
I spent rather a long time today recalling a conversation I had with a drunken Eskimo in the bar in Tasiilaq. He sat next to me at the bar and gazed deeply into my eyes before saying "I can't". Now what he probably meant was "I cant focus on you" but I took it as more of a sentimental reflection on his life and proceeded to tell him about the little train that could, who plucks up the spirit to say "I know I can" when straining greatly to climb up a steep hill. I said all of this, gazing back into the crossed eyes before me, and then paused for a reaction, which was the very same, "I can't". This time he probably meant "I can't understand a word you're saying" or "I can't believe you're speaking philosophically about a childrens story". And indeed it is strange that at 27, and the veteran of several ultra endurance expeditions, I'm drawing strength from the little train who could, but I am. We can succeed on this expedition, I know we can.
As odd as it is for a human to have no horizon, as we have experienced in whiteouts here when your entire world revolves around the front of your skis, it is also rather bizarre, and rather wonderful, to have a 360 degree horizon. Not one blemish for as far as the eye can see, which at sea is approximately 3nm either side of you, so I must assume it's something similar here. At 5pm today our horizon suddenly dipped as the icecap turns towards the coast.
But it's getting late and I've got to read a few pages of Noddy and Big Ears to Muzz before beddy byes. Nighty night all.

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