Beating the Storm

The forecast has been showing a storm brewing for a few days. This has made us particularly antsy to get out of camp ahead of it.

Our fuel rolls in!

Our fuel rolls in!

When we got our fuel on Sunday afternoon we hustled to get it all pumped into jerry cans and planned to depart that evening. With a storm forecast to come in about noontime on Monday we planned to drive through the night.

After riding in with our fuel, Nate reunites with Mike.

After riding in with our fuel, Nate reunites with Mike.

Comms gear test

Comms gear test

Unfortunately, but not at all surprisingly our initial departure left a bit to be desired in the loads. One of the types of gas cans we’d gotten had been quickly procured in Kangerlussuaq due to some shipping oversights. They were not up to expedition standard. A check of the load 10 km out of camp showed that several of the caps were already leaking because the caps were made of a different plastic than the container bodies. In the cold, the containers contracted faster than the lids, making them leak. Clear that this wouldn’t do for the whole trip, we headed back to snag some more of the big, heavy duty military jerry cans from Summit. (Sorry if you guys are short now!) A quick transfer of our fuel from the poor cans to the good ones in the wee hours of the morning got us back in order to depart, but we were running out of steam. We decided to catch a few hours sleep and got back up and after it around 6.

Yesterday morning the weather was actually much better than we expected, and the storm hadn’t started building yet, so we headed out hastily. A few minor load shufflings in our first few miles and we were finally well set and on our way. Surprisingly the good weather held right through the day as we ran in front of the storm. Strong sun, low winds and temps in the -30Fs. We had a glorious run of about 190 miles out to a place where we will be deploying an autonomous weather station. Along the way we stopped a couple times to refuel and pull hot “lunchitos” out of our muffler mounted cookers – more on these another day.

Evening in camp. Note the station assembly progress!

Evening in camp. Note the station assembly progress!

With temperatures dropping into the -50s F but the wind still low when we arrived at our campsite,I decided to get us on the scoreboard with some late night science work before bed by starting to put up the autonomous station.

Getting called in for dinner

Getting called in for dinner

I got things about half set up before a friendly voice called from the tent to let me know that dinner was ready.

Cozyness at 50 below

Cozyness at 50 below

Overnight the slightly overdue storm did roll in and we were glad to be tucked warmly into our sleeping bags. Winds picked up to about 30 mph and have drifted us and our snowmobiles in thoroughly. We’re warm and busy using our body heat to dry out wet facemasks and hats in our sleeping bags, slightly reticent to brave out into the whiteout to finish the station work.

morning view from the tent

morning view from the tent

Our plan for the rest of the day is pretty minimal – get the station up and running, and get some more sleep so we’ll be ready for a long run when things improve.

7 thoughts on “Beating the Storm

  1. Mike, I am really enjoying your blog! I wanted to let you know it is official you own a very unique special cabin in Homer Alaska! šŸ™‚ Congrats!! Stay warm out there!

  2. I am enjoying it too. You seem to be having more than your fair share of pesky troubles! For some reason I expected a more fine tuned approach to this with less variables. Hoping you do not run into too many more issues!

    I have read Shackleton’s adventures a few times and it reminds me of that a bit. Hoping your trouble is less as the weather is bad. Did you bring snow shovels!?

  3. Supposed to be 70 here tomorrow, slightly warmer than negative 50 with a 30 mph windchill. On a different note, dad and I both got turkeys on Saturday and envirothon tomorrow, I’m sure we can exchange stories when you get back. Although I’m sure yours will be of a greater quality and quantity!! Good luck riding out the storm.

  4. whoa!!!!! intense storm by your picture and report. but you have lunchitos so it’ll be a breeze.
    all we have here in vermont is 70 degrees, and every shade of green. sending love and know we are following your amazing journey daily. love, maggie

  5. Glad you made it in Nathan!!! I wish you all the best of luck now that your expedition is off and moving! I will be anxiously following along and looking forward to hearing more about it this summer!

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