We spent this morning leisurely packing in the sun, but by the time we actually moved, conditions were about as desperate as we’ve dealt with in the past 2 months. I shuttled Jason and Joey down to the weather station, where our second borehole camp was, about noon. The glacier then was covered by high, dark clouds, but the coastal plain was crystal clear and we didn’t have much thought about the weather. By the time I returned to get Kristin and Turner, however, rain showers had begun and the skies darkened. It didn’t take long to load up and started heading down the hill, but by the time we started down it began to hail. We hoped it was just a quick cloud burst, but by the time we were at the bottom of the hill, lightening was striking all around us and the hail was intensifying. Before leaving I weighed my pack at 80 pounds and Kristin’s with Turner in it exceeded 60, so we were not inclined to hike back up the slippery rocks back to camp. And if we did, there would be no guarantee that the storm would end, and then we would be in the difficult logistical predicament of being split from Jason and Joey, as we have to use our satellite phones to communicate, which is problematic. So we went for it.
I realize I’m biased, but I think I must have one of the heartiest wives in the world. I’m out here enduring the conditions because it’s part of my long-term career goals. Kristin is out here because of me. Yet even in the most desperate of conditions – getting soaked by hail, nearly fried by lightening, dragged through slush swamps on a sled, while holding on to our 2 year old son – there’s never a complaint or a whine. As we stood at the bottom of the hill with instantaneous thunder following lightening and I said “Let’s get thefuckoutta here”, she calmly and drippily said “Agreed”. When things are bad enough I don’t want to take the time to get a picture of it, it must be pretty bad. Conditions for snowmachining couldn’t have been worse either. Freezing rain on already slippery ice meant that I was just on the edge of being able to keep control of the machine and sled and left little margin for error. I drove within minor stream channels, as the walls of the streams provided sidewalls to keep us pointed in the right direction, but also meant I was continually flooding the sled with water. By the time we made it to the weather station, the hail had turned to rain and the lightening was no longer crackling around us. I made Kristin walk down the last hill in her crampons because I couldn’t be sure to be able to keep control of the sled on the slope, and the last stretch to the terminus after this was equally sketchy and wet. Soaked to the bone, she continued on with the hike onto the solid ground of the moraine after crossing an ice bridge over the now raging McCall Creek, all with a smile on her face. And not the smile of those ignorant of their predicament and how they got there, but the smile of those that grin and bear it because it was a result of deliberate decisions to choose this path. Turner was equally a trooper, sleeping through most of the trip, remarking only “My foot wet” when loaded into the backpack. How I’ve been so blessed I’ll probably never know.
The greatest family ever.
By the time we reached the terminus camp, Jason and Joey had set up the tents and got the stove going. It was a welcome relief to warm up and dry off a bit. The rain subsided after a little while and we wore our wet clothes (the only ones we had) to dry them off in the cool breeze. Turner woke up and was eager to explore the surroundings after a Scooby snack, searching for new eggs to hatch and new dragons (which also resemble large boulders) to fly on. The river was huge compared to a few days ago, swollen with all of the rain run-off, as were all of the waterfalls in the valley and surface streams on the ice. It was a remarkable thing to see, especially from a tent on high ground.
Turner drives the mystery machine.
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Thursday, 26 June 2008 04:25
Day 65: A desperate camp move to the terminusWritten by Matt Nolan
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