Ukpiaqvik is the Inupiaq language name for Point Barrow. It means “place to hunt snowy owls”
The temperature is again -30 below zero with wind chills at 50 below. It is cold!
The terrain I am on is the frozen Elson Lagoon which runs adjacent to the Arctic Ocean. The surface is ice with ripples of frozen snow forming miniature hills and valleys.
As you walk you bounce up and down occasionally breaking through an inch the ice and then pulling your boot out of the newly formed depression.
The repeated dips in the surface and the cracking ice strain my shins. Lifting the heavy boos out of crack confound the dilemma. I also notice fissures in the ice. They are only a few inches wide but I am cautions not to trip on them. Then suddenly just as I am congratulating myself, I slip fly through the air and land on my butt. Wearily, I get up and trudge on.
This is Arctic Ocean race walking at its finest.
I am aware that my walking is slow. The heavy clothing prevents me from getting fluid arm movement and I look like a stiff robot, or walking corpse, as I slide along the ice. The clothing gives me warmth but every forty minutes I stop at the truck for hot tea laced with sugar. It is warming and a psychological lift.
Once as my shins swell. I stop and sit in the truck for ten minutes. After consuming tow bananas I am on my way again.
Today another 14+ miles has been walked.
Our trail has now been filled in with blowing soft snow. We bounce and fly into the top of the truck cab as we struggle to return for the night in Barrow. It takes 3.5 hours to travel 28 miles. Along the way the special tuck suddenly skips through the air, lands, and breaks a shock absorber. We worry about shattering an axel and having to call for a helicopter rescue. That is, if the radio will transmit that far.
Tomorrow our radio will not be strong enough to reach rescue. We decide to continue on none the less.