Days melt into each other
Day 18 and 19 blurred into a mess of cold, wind, exposure and sastrugi in the end. I “rolled the clock”, this is where you travel until exhausted, sleep 4 hours then keep going, repeating the cycle as long as the conditions allow. By doing this you utilise the wind and maximise mileage.
The huge difference on this one was the cold. Last night air temps where -35C and crosswind with wind chill well below -42C. It just sucked the "Go" out of you - for hours I dreamt of the tent, a hot drink and the stove, warming me up. 4 hours sleep and today was a little easier, a mere -27C (still feels debilitating, I must say.) I managed to cover 183 km over the 24 hours.
Fuel! Last night after a particularly bad Sastrugi area - literally kilometres of crashing ice ridges and grooves, I unzipped one of the sleds and smelt fuel. This is any polar travelers nightmare as fuel is life here. Without fuel you have no water. It is also the heaviest resource in the sled and as such is metered out to the drop. Loose fuel also destroys food.
Panicked, I ripped the sled apart until I located one of my main fuel bottles that had vibrated so much it’s lid had come off and 1.5 litres of fuel had escaped into the sled. I did a full fuel inventory this morning and also brought the bottles into tent, heated them and taped the lids so there is no repeat of this kind of error!
I am ok, but I can’t afford to lose anymore fuel.
The Pole of Inaccessibility is getting closer (to my South East) as I slip into my toasty sleeping bag looking forward to a good nights sleep.