Judged by loaves of bread, we are half way through the journey. Loaf nine was cut into; the original 58 pounds of dense rye sourdough continues to sustain us, mainly in the form of grilled cheese. Surprisingly, with all of our messing around with clocks, we have had only one more lunch than actual day of journeying. The meal that often gets skipped is dinner. When the wind is howling, and it is freezing outside, it is simply too cold to cook dinner.
After 18 days, we’ve gotten into a rhythm, but in many ways, this is a vastly different journey from the one we had envisioned. For one, we had planned to kayak, to actually get in our boats and use paddles to propel ourselves. We have now resigned ourselves to the fact that this might not happen. We will continue to haul them over the ice foot (which is currently all ice, no gravel) and pull them through the leads and bits of open water that open up around high tide. This is grueling work, and to travel 5 kilometers this way takes hours and wipes us out. We had hoped to travel 300 miles. Now, getting to Carl Ritter Bay, just 100 miles from our start point, we will consider a success.
There are so many things we had hoped to do on this journey, but can’t, because Nares Strait is clogged with such a disarray of ice that travel through it is impossible. Until we can travel in the Strait there will be no fishing for halibut and no collecting water samples for micro plastics sampling. Chris won’t be able to deploy his wave buoys and we won’t be able to visit Hans Island, a tiny island, a chunk of rock claimed by both Canada and Greenland, where every few years the two nations stake their claim by helicoptering in and leaving a bottle of their best national whiskey, reason enough for us to try to stop by.
What we get are imposing views and stunning campsites, one after another. The tundra is vast, sweeping up into bare rugged mountains on all sides. Seemingly delicate wild yellow poppies and purple saxifrage dot the landscape, adding color to a world that is otherwise blue and gray. To be the only humans in this wilderness is an awe inspiring experience. Stark beauty, wild and remote, it is only the changes in the ice that remind us that even up here, far from all humans, the world is changing.