To keep the dog teams and skiers together in poor visibility they experimented with having two people skiing along-side the dogsled, with one hand on the dogsled (this is like a partial tow), one or two people ski-jouring behind the dogsled (also like a partial tow), and a couple people out front skiing fast. It seemed to work well and they will likely fine tune this way of travel in the coming days. They are over the hump, meaning they have passed the highest point on their traverse. From here it's all downhill, albeit very gradual at first, maybe even undetectable. But at least there will be no more climbing! Everyone is doing well and looking forward to a good night's rest.
May 23rd. Wild ride!
We did approx 32 km, up and over 8200 feet - the top of the glacier - and down a bit on the other side to 8050 feet. The conditions were appalling, snow, poor visibility, headwind. Pretty much the worst ever. Taylor was a machine and led every push at pace. Gruelling.
And then an ephemeral moment. The celts call it ‘a thin place’, when the space between heaven and earth narrows so much that it becomes translucent, transparent, ‘thin’. I’ve had rare moments like this in my life. Today the sky cleared, the sun broke through upon us. I was ‘waterskiing’ on my skis behind the dog sled with Dale beside me. We were cooking! The other sled with their 15 dogs came alongside. In that snapshot of time, that pure moment, I was completely overwhelmed. What a ride! The dogs are each on an independent line which is different than back home. They do it for dog safety. They frequently cross ice with a real risk of breaking through.
(Heather is referring to the "fan hitch" method of dogsledding which has each dog on its own rope back to the dogsled. Outside the Arctic most dogsledding is done in a 2 x 2 style, with two dogs out front, two behind them, two more behind them, etc. When you are dogsledding below treeline this makes sense, because you are often on narrow trails. But above treeline, for instance on the Greenland Icecap, it is wide open. No need to stay in a line. With the fan hitch system each dog has more independence. It's also often preferred when traveling on sea ice because if one dog falls through the ice the other dogs can quickly avoid the same trouble spot.
Below: Mushers in Greenland ride their Qamutiiks (see the sled on the right). Today our skiers took turns ski-jouring behind and along side the sleds.
Below: Dogs running in the fan hitch style