Monday, 4 May 2009

April 30th

April 30th (Day 29)

We made it! The first British team to manhaul between Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord! We have covered in excess of 300 miles, crossing land and sea. We have seen polar bear, seal and arctic hare. We have bonded as a team and grown fantastic beards … well the men have. Except Phil.

Today we pulled into Grise Fiord at about 5.30pm. We'd been traveling towards it for a number of hours and, as we came within a mile, a skidoo approached and Dwain the RMCP invited us for spaghetti and meatballs in his home. He and his wife had been watching us approach across the ice through his telescope.

Dwain's wife Charla also baked us cakes and their friend brought around cookies! We couldn't have been made to feel more welcome.

As we went to make camp we were surrounded by the village elders, kids on skidoos, the warden who had helped us with the sea ice and the teachers from the local school. It was great - as were the free rooms with hot showers offered to us by the hotel owner Doug.

We all have mixed emotions about the trip being over.

Phil was discussing the option of re-supply so the expedition could continue while Ian, having given it a really good chance, has decided he really doesn't like skiing.

Over the last few days it has been awkward to balance our elated feelings that the end was in sight with staying switched on to the environment we are in and the fact that even in the final days things can go wrong. In 2006 I was stuck in a storm for 2 days just 3km out of Resolute Bay without being able to get back into town.

Mark and I in particular have been keeping each other grounded, not allowing each other to talk as if we had already "made it". Superstition has governed every conversation about the weather - or in my case my bloody ski bindings!

Highs and lows? After the bad luck with the sea ice around Resolute, the long land crossing of Cornwallis Island and the sea rubble across Wellington Channel, I hit my low during the last day in the rubble. I questioned the purpose of the trip and my motivation for doing it. The reasons seemed so selfish and vain. Motivation also became an issue as at the time, it looked as though we would not make Grise Fiord in the time we had left. Yet I could not imagine a scenario where I would let myself give up.

These low moments were fleeting, perhaps for just a couple of hours, but they test your resolve none the less. The next day I shared my concerns with Mark and we re-evaluated the crossing of Devon island and the management of the team over the next stage of the trip. This helped us to complete the crossing in three days rather than the six we had allowed. The credit for this goes to each member of the team who buckled down and did what needed to be done.

Last night we talked about the highs and the lows for the whole team. The guys said the moment we crossed Cornwallis Island and saw the sea for the first time was the high for them. I think it was for me also - although the arrival in Grise Fiord takes some beating!

Well it’s nice to be clean again and I have seriously lost some weight. I might pop down to the medical centre to weigh myself. Tomorrow I shall do some filming around town and maybe get the chance to go and see some of the wildlife on Ellesmere Island. There will be a flight out tomorrow as today's was missed because of a storm in Resolute. We'll try and get our sledges on the plane and fly ourselves on Saturday.

Well off to bed, now for a well earned rest.