• Geoff Wilson

Surprise Miles

The forecast was for pretty ordinary wind and hence slow going for the next two days. Disappointing after such a radical last ten days (over 1000 km covered).

At midnight I heard the wind kick up a notch and try as I might I couldn’t sleep. After a huge day, I knew I needed sleep but the wind was calling. At 2:30 am I gave in, got out of the sleeping bag, made the days water, ate breakfast and got moving.

I’d laid out the big black kite downwind on 75m lines, attached the bar and safety to an erect ski jammed deep into the snow. I was leaning on a sled sleepily putting my kite harness on when I looked up and saw the kite self launch, rip the ski out and take off by itself across Antarctica. In horror I realised I was losing my number one kite and a ski ! I sprinted after it, forgetting I was in a harness now shackled by 4 m rope to 150 kg of sled. The effect was dramatic to say the least, absolute coat hanger. The pirouette and body slam I did when the rope pulled me short was abrupt and in any other situation hilarious. I unclipped and continued my sprint downwind. Thankfully the ski combined with a helpful sastrugi to delay the kite so I could jump on it and wrestle the night back in line .

All day my brain has replayed the close call, I can only say it was a fatigue related mistake and very nearly cost me dearly.

The wind surprised me, it was a beautiful wind and allowed me to travel in exactly the right direction. I pressed on, and on and on.

At 160 km from camp 50 I had a break, my feet, face and hands really struggled today as it was -35 C overnight. Wanting to get within a 1000 km of Thorshammer I gritted my teeth and pressed on, eventually despite there still being wind I called it at 203.1 km unable to continue any further.

A day from near disaster turned into a surprise wind that has chewed a big chunk of the journey home for me.

My feet need attention and I am skirting the fringes of fatigue seriously however the rest of me is strong. 930 km to Thorshammer, under the 1000km at last !!!

The pic today is not a great one, but it’s a moment for me uplifted by a message written on my butter by Lynne, Brian or Hayley in South Africa so many weeks ago. It lifted me up at a critical time, thank you. Just shows us all how small kindnesses can make a momentous difference.

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