#2: The icy maze
We had a slow morning this morning, getting used to the routine of waking up and getting out of camp. We emerged from the tent to a bluebird day, a sprawling maze of ice and snow laid out in front of us. Sleds packed, sunscreen on, crampons on, and off we went!
After just half an hour we realised just how challenging this day would be, hauling our unruly sleds up, over and around the icy mounds.
The aim of the game is to find the path of least resistance, while maintaining travel in the right direction! The ridges and valleys run diagonally, and so it’s very easy to get sucked down these valleys and find yourself off course. Much of the surface was bare ice, and luckily with the cooler temperatures we’ve been experiencing, the melt had not yet begun. This meant that we could use the frozen melt rivers and pools as little highways through the undulations. Finding these channels heading in the right direction was always a delight, and provided some relief from the constant stopping and starting, climbing and descending, sliding and sled tipping. A lot of the time we would have to unclip from our sled, walk up to a high point and scout a possible route. It’s tricky to remember where you are headed when you’re at the bottom of a channel surrounded by walls of ice!
By lunch time everyone was ready for a break. We soaked up the sunshine, ate hot noodles for lunch, danced to the ‘rollin’ on a river’ song (Proud Mary?), taped up some hotspots and continued on.
After lunch felt a lot harder than the morning, probably just due to our bodies being tired and acclimatising to hard work! After a few more hours of up, down and around-ing, we came over the top of a rise to find a perfectly flat snowy section perfect for camp. There were no complaints at the mention of putting up tents, and in no time people were set up, water boiled and eating dinner.
Today provided some of the most mentally engaging travel I have experienced. Literally like being in a maze made of ice, with a mildly disobedient dog (sled) that sometimes digs it’s heels in and drags you back, sometimes races in front of you trying to pull you along, and sometimes flips onto its back refusing to go anywhere!
A great day in the bag!