Wind in the Sahara
The wind began howling with a vengeance last night, and continued throughout the day today. Aaron was scheduled to have a skype with the Weather Channel late last night Iceland time. First, the wind blew over our BGAN that we use to connect to the internet. Chris ran to grab it and hold on to it so that we could reconnect online. Then Aaron’s phone died due to the cold temps. Ultimately, the interview ended up being by satellite phone with video from our trek thus far playing in the background. This is how things go sometimes from the field, with unpredictable weather and technology that doesn’t always love the cold. Time on an expedition like this teaches you the importance of patience, innovation (finding solutions to challenges at the spur of the moment), and a healthy sense of humor :).
After the late night interview, the team hit the hay, and woke early this morning to continue our trek south. Today the skies were sunny, the rolling landscapes stunning, and the wind relentless. The landscape reminds us of the Sahara, only filled with snow rather than sand. It is, in fact, desert here, designated as such based on the amount of precipitation received each year. The snow here races across the rolling dune-like hills, like some kind of surreal speedway, and swirls in eddies at our feet.
The strong wind lends special challenge on a trek like this. It makes it even more difficult to regulate your body temp, so the team is constantly putting on and taking off layers (it’s very important we don’t sweat, which can lead quickly to hypothermia). The wind makes lunch especially cold, as anytime we stop or stand still, our bodies immediately cool down. Anytime we stop for an extended time, we throw on our warmest parkas. Finally, strong wind makes setting up a tent a particular challenge. It took the whole team working together tonight to get the tent up and stable. The shape of our tent (a dome) allows the wind to slide around it, while deadmen anchor the tent in the snow, and piles of snow packed onto the snowflaps around the tent help hold it steady.
Despite the wind and the challenges of the day, we made good progress, and are now tucked away in the tent for the night, the wind still howling around us.