Friday, June 24, 2016

Patti's Story Part 8 ©

The Big Lead     

Big lead #1 moving gear
We had been traveling for about 12 days when we ran into the wide open lead pictured here. I estimated it to be about 50' across. As was our habit when running into these ever widening leads, we would split up and ski or run along either edge looking for a narrow place to cross. One of the phenomenon in this pristine place is sound clarity.We could be long distances apart and still have conversations albeit with enough volume. At The Big Lead, (named after Robert E Peary's Big Lead during his North Pole Expedition) we failed to find a better crossing spot. Bob and I returned to the spot where Will was standing staring at the other side of the lead.  Our other option is normally to calculate wind direction and start heading with it towards shore. Traveling along, hoping the wind would not shift in the opposite direction, it was our likely opportunity that the wind was pushing the ice into shore and we could step onto land. 

Big Lead #2 moving gear and dogs
Will kept staring at the other side of the lead during this 'option' conversation. Then he said, 'I think that long piece of ice might be detached from the side.Here comes life again...  it did not appear to be separated to me but as we stood looking at it, it magically started to move away from the side and floated free. Whatever you want to call this, life seems full of these events. They never cease to stun me! We were there the day and the very moment that the ice detached. I cannot calculate the odds on this happening at just that moment.

We tied a pail to a long rope and took turn tossing and trying to get the pail flopped over the top to the opposite side of that ice. The object was to get the pail filled with water and it would act as a sort of hook. We were laughing with amazement and made a contest of it. I won! I'm pretty proud of that. We managed to wedge the length of it to either side, creating a bridge. You can see in the photos how long it was!  Will and I used ice screws to anchor either side. I went across first and the job of getting this expedition going again began. Last across were the dogs, the sled and Will who had been photographing the entire event. 


Patti Steger
Steger Mukluks

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