Position Date: 2012-12-20 23:35:03
Position Lat: -80.0804
Position Long: -80.6106
After another anxious night, the weather looked good for the flight to Hercules Inlet and the edge of the Antarctic continent. Within a hour of hearing the news, we were packing the twin otter with the Moonlander and two Ergodyne duffels full of my supplies. It was a relief to finally be moving. (Image: Packing up at Hercules Inlet).
While I was excited to finally start this expedition, I was more excited about simply moving as the past two days in Union Glacier proved to be nerve wracking and stress filled. It seemed like my mind thought that any idle moment was fair game for offering up a wide variety of worst case scenarios. It didn't help that most at camp were somewhat skeptical of any chance of success.
The plane landed hard bouncing off sastrugi (hard drifts of snow). It somewhat calmed my nerves as hard sastrugi would mean better travel for me. I hopped out and began to dig two small trenches in the snow. This a plan I had devised so time ago for keeping the bike upright when it's being loaded.
After a few well wishes from the pilot and other ALE staff, I was on my way.
Right away, I had trouble dealing with the wind. It kept pushing me east and with nearly 100 lbs. of weight on my bike making quick adjustments is no easy task. One other problem was the compass we had mounted to the handle bar - the metal of the bar was altering the reading. I had noticed this two days ago so I wore my spare compass around my neck. (View current position by clicking on map).
Because I kept getting pushed east, I was now in an area with several crevasses. I gingerly hopped over one then another only to trip and open up a hole that was easily over 100 feet deep. It definitely scared me as the thought of ending up mangled at the bottom of one was not my idea of a good time. I tried not to think about it too much and took comfort in the fact that I was wearing my DeLorme inReach should anything happen.
I managed to veer enough to begin the steep climb out of the Inlet and onto Antarctica proper. I was glad that I had put on my Yaktrax because trying to push my monster bike up was brutal enough without slipping.
At the top, I was exhausted. I had wanted to get out of the crevasses area so badly I didn't stop for my normal breaks. I pulled out my Bergans down jacket, Vapur bottle and chugged down water as I wolfed down two Clif Bars and a piece of Skratch candy.
There was another hike a bike climb, and then blowing snow. Overall the snow conditions are pretty good, but several drifted pockets are like grease and I must have totally wiped out about 20 times today. It was hard.
I tried to focus only on small goals. If I thought about anything else all this self doubt would creep in. I felt like I just took this mental hand and tried to push all that anxiety way back inside. It worked for a little while, but thoughts of home and failure came creeping back in and I was left with my bike and the biggest expanse of white you could ever possibly imagine.
Distance traveled: 10.6 nautical miles (5.7 of those were southerly).