Day 51: Short Antarctic Summers Wait for No One
Spindrift pileup against the tent during the night. Without much solar heating during the night, the tent was as cold as an ice box. But we slept warm and cozy in our expedition clothes with the addition of insulated pants - and under our two-layer alpine quilt.
Jenny packing her sled. The lidded bowls contain our lunch of dry granola to which we will add water. Also on the ground are small bags of high-energy cookie bars for snacking at our standing breaks.
"This was the kind of morning you would rather stay in bed. But the Antarctic summers are short and they wait for no one."
A weather system moved in, and for two nights the sky was cloudy and sun was absent. The solar charger still worked - at a reduced rate, but mainly the natural solar heating, though the walls, did not. Especially combined with the wind. So we spent a couple of cold nights. Last night we even wore our insulated pants. Correction: It was cold in the tent, but we were warm.
Nevertheless, on sunny nights, we normally hang our face masks, gloves, and so forth, from clothes lines on the ceiling to dry. And while Jenny is melting water on the stove and cooking dinner, I write the updates.
Last night we were busy drying things by holding them up to the stove while we were melting water. So my updates were a little short.
This morning was the kind of morning you would rather stay in bed. The temperature was minus 20, the sky totally cloudy, the wind was blowing 15 out of the north, and the air was full of spindrift. And there we were warm and cozy in our insulated pants, in addition to our expedition clothes, and under our Greenland quilt.
But the Antarctic summers are short and they wait for no one. So we began our making-ready routine at our usual hour of 6 am. By 7:00 the sun was shining weakly through what looked like dissipating clouds. We set off at 8:00, and by 11:00 we were skiing in a beautiful day, despite the 10 mph northwest wind.
The sastrugi was not so much of a problem today. It was everywhere, but much smaller. And the snow was not so deep, maybe half an inch because the wind during the last two days had turned it into ice.
Our sleds are getting lighter as we use up our supplies, so they are not quite so hard to pull. But we seemed to be climbing, so the day was not so easy, as with them all.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the day, and we admired the interesting and varied patterns on the surface, made by the wind. The surface was like an art gallery, everywhere you look.
A thought occurred to me that so much beauty down here and the vast majority of it will go unseen because there is so much, and the ice cap is so immense. This is the way the universe works also; so much beauty that we will never see. But still the mind boggles.
At this evening's camp, the temperature is much the same as last night, but the sun is shining and the wind is still, so the air does not feel cold. Inside the tent we have all of our things hanging up to dry, and we couldn't be more comfortable.
Hanging to dry on the tent's ceiling: boot liners, socks, and hats.
On this New Year's Eve, Jenny and I wish everybody a happy and rewarding new year. And we hope you are planning your own NFT, however you imagine and would like that to be. Just keep it fun!
Remaining miles to the South Pole: 89.1.
Evening camp: S 88° 41.247' W 84° 50.400'
Today's mileage: 13.1 in 10.5 hrs