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Day 33 - June 7 2006
We awoke around 8 am this morning to another nice day. In contrast to yesterday, there was a slight breeze coming over the ridge of the dome from the north, but the sky was still sunny and clear. We heard over the Iridium phone that the plane bound for Station Nord from Kangerlussuaq with our replacement team was in the air by 9:15 am. We loaded up the Skidoos and sleds with personal gear and the first group departed for the 40-km ride to Nord at about 11:05 am. Sverrir led with the first skidoo and Dennis and Bruce squeezed onto the sled. Lars drove behind pulling Claude and Steffan. Within ten minutes we had to stop, as the loads on the sleds were shifting backward, and the last persons on each sled, Bruce and Steffan, were in danger of slipping off.
Sverrir and Steffan load up the skidoos and Nansen sleds in preparation for our trip back to Station Nord and home.
After some repositioning, and tightening of straps, we were on our way once again. We drove along at about 20 � 25 km per hour and the sastrugi, or snowdrifts, made the ride very bumpy. Those on the sleds were bounced around and had to hang on to the sides to keep from being tossed off. The first hour took us across the ridge and to the edge of the ice dome. I use �edge� loosely because we never really reached a sharply defined edge. The terrain gradually steepened and the view to the north toward the Arctic Ocean below became more and more spectacular. We paused briefly to take some pictures and could just make out Station Nord off in the distance by the cluster of antennas surrounding it.
View from the dome toward Station Nord and the Artic Ocean about 20 km north and 2000 ft below. The drop is difficult to detect in a picture.
During the first leg of the trip we had noticed our Skidoo was making occasional clanking sounds. We did not think much of it as we had heard those sounds on previous days. However, as we were descending one particularly steep slope, the engine suddenly died. It started back up, but shortly thereafter there was a new popping sound, which gradually grew worse until suddenly the engine lost power once again. Lars restarted it and moved forward slowly, but the engine continued running very rough and was having difficulty pulling us up small slopes. Soon we came to a dead stop and Sverrir, who was way up ahead by this time, dropped the sled with Bruce and Dennis and came back to check on us. After checking the spark plug on the right cylinder, which seemed fine, Sverrir noticed a loose wire, which he hoped was the problem, and taped it.
Sunlight reflects off the Flade Isblink ice dome and the slope we just came down.
But when he restarted the Skidoo, there was a new clanking sound as well as the popping from before. Sverrir pronounced that the right piston was shot and so effectively was the Skidoo. After some discussion, we decided to hook both sleds to Sverrir�s good skidoo. Since we were only about 10 km from Nord, it was decided that Lars would limp along on the bad Skidoo, which was still running, as far as it would take him while we went on ahead. Pulling two sleds behind one Skidoo worked just fine and we arrived in Nord at about 1:30. Kim had prepared a lunch for us, a combination of fresh bread, smoked and pickled fish, assorted cheeses, potato salad, cole slaw, grape juice and coffee. These were the first fresh vegetables we had eaten in 3 weeks and everything tasted wonderful. Meanwhile Sverrir went back to check on Lars. Soon they were back with the blown Skidoo still running. Once lunch was finished, we made a beeline for the shower and laundry facilities. We were so grimy that we soaped ourselves down 2 or 3 times to remove all the grease and dirt.
Back in Station Nord, the Spring thaw is well underway as roads and runways are wet and muddy.
Sverrir and Lars borrowed another Skidoo from the Station Nord crew and left with the sleds to get the second group. They returned less than 4 hours later, in time to greet the Twin Otter from Kangerlussuaq flying in our relief team. The plane first appeared off in the distance, flying low over the Flade Isblink ice dome, and landed a few minutes later at about 9 pm. There was much merriment and rejoicing as colleagues and old friends were reunited and each group updated the others on the day�s events.
Final group shot of the first Flade Isblink field team. Team members from left to right, (kneeling) Andreas Lemark, Jorgen (JP) Steffensen, Claude Laird, Dennis Sundermeyer, (standing) Simon Sheldon, Bruce Vaughn, Steffan Bo Hansen, Sverrir Hilmarsson, Lars Berg Larsen
The new arrivals were Dorthe Dahl-Jensen (JP�s wife and new expedition leader), Sigfus Johnsen, Bo Vinther, Peter Langen (all from the University of Copenhagen), Nancy Bertler (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Thorstein Johansson (Iceland), and Trevor Popp (University of Colorado). Kim cooked a second dinner for them and we all went up to the kitchen while they ate and made plans for tomorrow. We then moved over to the lounge for a few drinks and more discussions before drifting off to bed.
Group shot of the entire Flade Isblink field team. Team members from left to right, (kneeling) Bo Vinther, Dennis Sundermeyer, Claude Laird, Simon Sheldon, (standing) Thorsteinn Johansson, Jorgen (JP) Steffensen, Trevor Popp, Steffen Bo Hansen, Sigfus Johnsen, Sverrir Hilmarsson, Andreas Lemark, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Bruce Vaughn, Peter Langen, Nancy Bertler.
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