The fog has descended. The ceiling is low. It is cold. And it does not look like conditions will change soon. We are huddled in our tents, not cold, but not exactly toasty either. We are hoping conditions will change. If not, the Twin Otter will not come to pick us up tomorrow. Up here, in this mountainous environment pilots fly by line of sight. They do not rely on instruments. If it is foggy tomorrow, we will stay.
As “keeper of the keys” to the larder, this is a scenario I have been worrying about. Things were not looking too good, but then Mike found a dry bag with four dinners in it! Now we have enough food for three days of waiting. We won’t be pigging out, but we won’t go hungry either. Either way, we are all dreaming of the comforts of ‘civilization’: salads, hot showers, tacos, unlimited amounts of toilet paper… After thirty three days, we are all ready to leave. For me, our eminent departure is bittersweet. This is an environment I love. In this austerity, every flower, every plant, each insect, is noticed. There is nothing extra. Every bit of life stands out.
I am not sure if I will ever return here, or even if I want to return here. This journey has shown us that travel in Nares Strait is not possible, not in the way it was even fifteen years ago. Ice conditions have changed as the Arctic has warmed. So while I really want to return home, to eat tomatoes from the garden, to lie in the shade of a tree, to smell fresh cut grass and wood smoke, to watch fireflies, and to listen to crickets on a summer’s night, I know that I will miss it here.
But please, Fog, lift. Let us leave Carl Ritter Bay, our most beautiful and otherworldly home for this past week.