Day 37: Alone in an Immense Wilderness
It felt like the first day of summer. Beautiful blue sky, and a faint, light wind, just enough to keep us from overheating.
In the morning we had some hill climbing and moderate sastrugi, but by early afternoon we found the going a bit easier and the sastrugi not so rough.
A large part of our enjoyment today was the fact that we had gotten past the 85 degree hurdle. Now it felt like we were really on our way to the pole.
Due to the snowfall four days ago, and the lack of wind, we were constantly pulling the sleds over patches of soft, sticky snow of one to three inches deep.
Ray and I traded leads all day, and thanks to his coaching throughout the day (instruction and tips on the fine art of navigating by all clues available, while referring to the compass to verify only occasionally), I was able to maintain, for the most part, a correct heading. Of course, Ray had taught me much of this previously, but today I was able to put it into practice.
Without the biting wind howling through our parka hoods, I was amazed at how absolutely quiet and still this icy continent can be. And although there are other south pole expeditions ahead and behind us, we feel very isolated, as though we have this entire sector all to ourselves.
We are quite used to this feeling of aloneness; in fact it is one of the factors that draws us to the immense wilderness areas.
Tonight in the tent, as we eat our dinner and get ready for sleep, we can feel the solar radiation permeating the west facing side of the tent. With any kind of wind, the sun doesn't have a chance to do any warming.
And in the morning, when we awake at 6:00, we get the solar heating on the east side of the tent.
Evening camp: 86° 10.592' W 86° 41.745'
Today's mileage: 12.2
Altitude: 5930 ft., Temperature: -19 C