Reflection (Log #38)
L O U ' S D I A R Y
Day 39 in Antarctica. A hard day. Whiteout conditions, snowfall and strong winds that hurl out whipping spindrift. Lou digs in to 11 hours of compass-staring and finds time for reflection on his performance and past expeditions...
Dec 11 2018 -
Good evening everyone…
Reporting in now from day 39 of the expedition. A hard day today. Full whiteout right from the beginning. Really strong winds that were bringing up a lot of spindrift. And also actual snowfall as well making the hauling really difficult. I accepted right from the beginning it was going to be a tough, challenging day. I put my head down. I was on the compass. It was complete full whiteout; saw absolutely nothing all day. So it was 11 hours of staring at the compass. I used the time, I got into a rhythm, to kind of reflect on my performance so far on the expedition and was feeling quite self-critical.
I was thinking ‘could I push harder? Is there more I could do?’ The only thing I can compare it with is the last expedition I did two years ago, my traverse across with the SPEAR17 team. So I was doing a comparison. And actually I think I’m doing alright. On SPEAR, we only went for 10 hours a day, whereas on this trip, for quite a long time now, I’ve been doing 11 hours a day. I’m travelling faster and further in that time, considering I have a lot more weight.
On SPEAR we set off with 50 days of food. On this, I set off with 65 days of food. Plus I’m carrying all the rest of the kit, whereas on SPEAR we could spread out – the cooker, one person had that, the tent, the med pack, the spares pack. I’m carrying all of that myself, and all that extra food, and I’m getting no relief at the front. Again, in the team of six that we had, we’d do an hour at the front navigating and breaking trail, and I’m not, I’m doing all the navigating with no respite. On whiteout days it’s particularly exhausting. So the fact that I’m actually travelling faster, I’m managing to put in longer days, and achieving higher mileage, I’m actually really pleased with that.
I haven’t taken a dedicated rest day either, on the whole trip. By this point on SPEAR we’d had several by now, every couple of weeks… we’d take the opportunity for a rest day. I haven’t take a single one now in 39 days. I think actually – oh I’m a couple of years older too – in a few months time I’ll be 50 years old. I kind of came away, after reflecting on that today, feeling quite positive about my performance so far on this expedition. I think I am doing as much as I possibly can. I’ve still got over 300 nautical miles to go, so I don’t want to go crazy and push way too hard. So I felt quite positive by the end of the day, having analysed my performance against previous trips. I’m reasonably happy with that. I’m now two days away from the Pole.