Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ellesmere Island Journal Days 15-17

For days we’ve seen no sign of man. In the first weeks there was nothing but stories that showed man had ever traveled here. Then a single plane flew overhead at 30,000 feet, I assume full of dozing passengers, bad food, and crying babies. As they rocketed through the sky, probably barely noticing Ellesmere below them, we plodded along on the sea ice, watching it’s trailing ribbon. From then on, the occasional fuel barrel would pop into view where planes had landed and dropped the excess weight or refueled, thinking of course that these were parts where no man visited for fun. 6000 year old ruins dug through again and again by scientists were another sign of man, yet they seemed to fit into the land, because in truth, there was nothing about them that was not of the land. Stones piled high, discarded bones cut clean through. Now though we sit in Eureka Harbor and have left Axel Heigburg Island for good. Soon we will be setting foot on Ellesmere Island itself, the namesake of our expedition

Here in Eureka a few scientists have gathered under satellite dishes, radar, and the 24 hour sun, to us they are the furthest thing from normal.


They Would be shadows were they not snow white,
These wolves running through the arctic night.

Just as we were setting up camp, 11 wolves came out of nowhere and rushed into camp. Some were more than simply curious, and came right at the dogs. It was a strange balance between chasing them off and taking photos of them coming close.
It was a cool interaction, we didn’t have to be afraid of them except for our dogs.

I think the hardest part of the trip is leaving the dogs behind, K2 the loner, Pitarak the cocky teen, Denali the caring mother of most of the dogs here, Kapi the giant Teddy who would be top dog if he cared about anything but laying next to his brother Amurak. Augustus the friendly and playful... So many dogs with such personality, it’s hard not to think of them as people. They have far more intelligence than we generally attribute to them.

The Greatest comforts out here are these things that you have to conserve. If you don’t have to worry about running out and can indulge every day there is no sense being excited. Even toilet paper turns into a valuable item. 2 caramels a week are pure gold, and could sell at the same price, though not for cash perhaps for powdered milk.

I just realized that I’ve been Imagining the end of our expedition party taking place in the dark, as it’s al supposed to happen at night. Strange, I wonder what a Psych would say about that.

There is no better taste than the last of ones water

No sight nor sound betrays the pounding paws of the wolf pack. Once they’ve come, they’ve gone, leaving only melting prints in their place.

It is more than likely true that this will be the last time I’ll be alone on this expedition, sitting in the failing sun that will not ever fail entirely, the blue hue of this landscape rolls out before me. Even the slightest hint of man pulls me back to a world of cars, women, and selfishness. I’m sure I learned a great deal here, but I won’t be able to grasp it for some time. All I can do now is sit and take it all in. What continuation of this experience will I see next? How will I be able to make this time truly my own? Questions without answers are not ones that should be asked. When all of this is but a memory how will I feel upon reflection? Only time will tell, and time is not something I have enough of. All I know is that it stands still until it’s gone. I am still in the beginning of the expedition, landing on the ice of Axel Heigburg Island both afraid and determined.

...A memory
Crossing a great sound mountains rise on both sides. The old ice we cross was once jagged blocks crushed against each-other with glass sharp edges. Now it has melted into rolling mounds of blue and white, cloud-like yet firm, leaving the impression that we sled across the sky in low lying clouds that cover all but the highest peaks.

These are the things that bring me Joy:

Warmth in the Cold
Shelter in a Storm
Passion in the Moment
Moments in a second
Stillness in Violence
Comfort in catastrophe

And here above the sea,
Alone I stand to take it in,
To my left and to my right,
No sign of man at hand for 14 days and a night,
And so I stand to take it in and lo,
There I stand,
The sign of man.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

What beautiful self reflection. The ending of the day, with a poetic twist of words. Perfection.