The first mini-milestone
After a brutal night with temperatures well below -30 C inside the tent, I awoke feeling less than refreshed! I could hear the flitter of light wind against the tent, so I ventured outside to check its direction.
There was certainly enough to get moving, however, my recurring challenge at the moment is linked with the wind direction. The issue with kiting in an upwind direction, is that the risk of frostbite increases dramatically, as the wind beats against your extremities. I’ve found my hands are causing me the most grief at the moment. The wind its biting through three layers of mitts, I have to be very careful.
I unpacked and launched my 11 m kite, with the 210kg sled in tow. Driving hard, I managed 2 hours before I was forced to stop with my hands feeling like someone was holding a blow-torch across them. I dropped the kite and removed my gloves to check them. A frightening white colour and hardening of my finger tips warned me I had run too close to an irreversible frost injury.
I put up the tent, got the stove on and reassessed my hands. All bar one finger revitalised and got sensation back. One finger on my left hand will need more time to recover. If I had left it any longer it may have been an injury I’d have to nurse the entire journey – I shudder at that thought.
I spent the next 4 hours reconfiguring my entire glove system and hand protection. With 4 variations of gloves and mitts on, I broke camp and managed to travel another 20 km south before exhaustion. Thankfully, my hands felt much better this time. My revised glove system was prevailing, keeping sensation in my fingertips . Once the wind turns side on (I expect within the next 100 km) then this will no longer be an issue.
Once warm in my sleeping bag, I was able to review progress of the expedition so far, feeling grateful to have passed the 72-hour milestone. There have been mistakes, however, nothing serious enough to threaten the success of the expedition. I have kited roughly 140km south and climbed over 3000 feet.
Missing home and loved ones but feeling more confident travelling in the bitter November temperatures.