Trail Dispatch – Slush Holes



Coordinates: 68.24.131 N, 66.38.299W
Distance Traveled: 14.1 mi/ 22.6 km
Temperature: (10:00 pm) -15 °F/ -26 °C
Wind: 10 MPH/ 16 KPH

Sunrise: 5:18 a.m.
Sunset: 7:43 p.m.

It’s amazing what lurks beneath the surface.
The wide expanse of snow that surrounds us on all sides, perfectly flat and smooth from a distance, holds all kinds of suprises underneath. Not all bad, mind you. Yesterday, for example, we came accross a seal den buried under a small mound and got a brief glimpse of a furry brown seal pup. Other things hidden underneath, however, are a little less pleasant.

Today the surprise came in the form of giant slush holes. The dogs did their best to pull through the salty mess, swinging wide to either side in unsuccessful attempts to side-step it altogther. The sled usually managed to float above it all. But people, should they be unlucky enough to be on foot, plunged knee-deep into the sink holes. In the process both dog and human feet came out caked with ice, and needed to be scraped, kicked, licked, and generally gnawed-at before becoming lightweight and nimble again.

Sarah was a champion today and skied out ahead of the teams, breaking trail and picking the route. Simon and Lukie’s teams followed close behind, with Stetson and Nancy next and Will and I in the rear. We stopped for lunch in the early afternoon, enjoying leftovers from the previous dinner and fish soup. Theo fired up the Coleman stove for instant coffee and Earl Grey tea.

40_dogs_Sm.jpg The rest of the afternoon was somewhat smoother, minus the three foot-wide cracks in the ice we came accross. The dogs like these cracks just about as much as they like the slush holes, and often balk at the crossing. It’s takes some coaxing to get them across. Crossing the cracks on skis is no easy matter either, and takes some creative acrobatics to get over.

We camped again out in the open, just off of Cape Hooper. In the rise ahead of us we can barely discern the sillouette of an old Dew Line Station, one of many between Greenland and Alaska. The dogs are staked out in a circle around the tents and so far we’ve had no surprise visits from our large four-footed neighbors. Tomorrow may be a longer day as travel is slow with slush and deep snow. Still our spirits are high with bright sun warming our backs all day.

All is well. Feet are dry (finally).


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