Everything had gone relatively according to plan in respect to our first night out until about 3 o’clock in the morning. I awoke to some sounds outside, what sounded like foot-steps….or were they paw-steps? I ignored it for a bit but my curiosity and fear grew as the sounds continued around the outside of the tent. At the same time there were some creaks and cracking sounds of the ice, which put me firmly in the “I’m now scared” zone. Matt woke up and looked over to me asking “how goes the war?” and I promptly told him “shush”. He quickly got what I meant and asked where the shot-gun was, “outside!!” I replied. We listened some more before eventually determining that the noises were actually just the breeze against the tent - over active imagination you might say, but considering we had crossed a number of bear tracks on route to our campsite, the animals were in the forefront of our minds.
As you would imagine we quickly grabbed the shot-gun from outside, loaded it and had it to hand should we have needed it. The rest of night passed without a hitch, both of us awakening every few hours from either the noise of the Vapour Barrier Liners (like big plastic bags) we were sleeping in which lined our sleeping bags or from the occasional shower of snow/frost that had built-up from our breath.
In the morning we put the sleeping bags away, had breakfast, collapsed the tent and started to head back to the Resolute. The conditions were near white-out and so navigation and sense of direction were fairly difficult. We were soon passing the husky packs and the boats, frozen in the bay, before getting back to the town. As we approached one of my bindings all of a sudden felt very loose, a few seconds later my foot came away from my ski and I realised the binding had actually broken - not ideal!!! Our first training night-out was over and with it we had established a number of lessons….and have now ordered some new bindings, which will hopefully be here in the next few days!!!
Jules and I are currently sat out on the ice in the tent on our first overnighter. This will allow us to check our admin, work out if the communication system works and generally start getting used to life in the tent.
Our morning was spent discussing the merits of various bits of clothing and what we should pack (but it looks like I am not going to take my down jacket and rely on the synthetic jacket and fleece). But sat here now chilling off, that decision may be revisited.
We packed all our pulks, using black waterproof bags full of frozen water as weight and set out across the bay again. The pulks moved easily considering we were pulling over 100kg, but we still need to slow down and sweat less, but this may be a hard lesson to learn. As we skied along we came across a scene of utter devistation, we assume that a polar bear had caught a seal - the bear prints were a lot largerthan those we saw yesterdayand there appeared to be cub prints tagging alongside.
We are now sat in the tent about to eat, the temperature outside is about -35, whilst inside its -15; oh what fun! Well that was a rushed meal, and looking around the tent all I can see is steam and drying gloves, hats and neck ruffs. The best bit is that we are goung to operate a cold tent which means that we won't bring in our sleeping bags until the tent has cooled down - this helps keep condensation out of the bags. But it means we have to get uncomfortable first! But our sleeping system will be the subject of another blog.