Day 69_2

Day 69, 18 March 2016

Ian: Think the fat lady is singing…..

We didn’t go to bed as happy bunnies Thursday night. Yes it had been another tough day, 7 hours to do 20km of wet snow in freezing rain and gales, crossing and avoiding streams that had become icy torrents and staying well clear of melting lakes.
But our unhappiness wasn’t retrospective, it was more the dawning realisation that these conditions were going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, to keep to a schedule already compressed by earlier lost days. Not to mention that 50% of the team was the cross-country equivalent of Eddie the Eagle.
Directly ahead in the plan were 9 days of difficult terrain with several +35km days and camping before any respite. But instead of the planned route with relatively easy-going skiing across multiple iced-over lakes and rivers we would have to divert around them, plus probably backpack all the gear and sleds as the roads would have little or no snow. This trip was supposed to be about having fun; we both agreed the fun was diminishing.
So as usual we woke at six but instead of the usual bowl of instant porridge and hot chocolate and gearing up for the day, we had a day long discussion about what to do. Our current average pace was around 19km per day and longest distance in ok conditions was 30km; in difficult conditions we were down to less than 3km an hour. After an awful lot of options-pondering and heart-searching we decided we would call it a day.
Not a happy moment. Understatement.
But there is still the challenge of getting ourselves back to any sort of road head. We are at least 2-3 days skiing/walking to any place with a bus or taxi.
If there is a silver lining to this cloud it is the fact that we are in a warm hut at a place called Gaundalen owned by a very kind man who farms, tends and hunts 22000 hectares of wilderness. He has offered to take us on his skidoo to the nearest road where he is picking up 8 fishermen. As I write that’s where we are up to. Sad day.
My part of this journey has ended up being very short, less than a fifth of what Hilary and Conrad did together (hat off to you Mrs D!). As friends we’ve shared a lot these last 10 days – some wonderful country, kind and interesting people, some brilliant weather, some appalling conditions (and appalling language after multiple falls), some scary bits, lots of funny bits, and so, so many unforgettable moments.
Thanks for the opportunity Mr D. What a privilege.