Photo Journal

Comment from Nagatani

The Arctic beyond my capability

A day begins with boiling water from snow by a camp stove. After having a quick breakfast, we would slip into clothes and boots freeze-dried in forty below temperature, and get going. Taking a break in every other hour for about 10 minutes, and we would start walking before our perspiration gets frozen. Each day passes like this. When it gets really cold, my eye rushes freeze and make it hard to keep eyes open.

When it gets really tough to keep pulling a heavy sled, although it was my own decision to join this expedition, I would start asking myself as I keep going,'why in the world am I doing this out here?','How much easier would it be if I was working on a computer at my desk.'

In those times, I was greatly relieved by seeing wild animals. The only animals I encountered were arctic foxes and ravens, but we saw tracks of musk oxen, ptarmigans, etc. several times. To know that there certainly is life living in this frozen land really cheered me up.

Seventeen days after our departure, as I was relieved having come through Cornwallis Island (75:27:02:N, 93:44:12W) , we ran into the treacherous jumbles of ice. At this point, I was no longer able to find my own path and was just following the track of Ohba's sled in front of me.

In the jumbled ice, I was scared at the sights of large polar bear tracks, tripped by the deep snow drifts to fall and beat my own body against hard surface of ice, and I was continuously picking up the sled every time it tipped over or got stuck in between chunks of ice to move on.

At the end of a day, after supper, we would spend time drying all the gloves and socks frozen after they absorbed our sweat, and we would go sleep thawing the crisply frozen sleeping bags with our own body heat. We were once awaken by the foot steps of a polar bear that sneaked up to our tent. Creepy is the right word when you hear something creeping up toward you.

I knew that hearty meals, warm bath and comfortable bed are waiting for me once I got out of this. But I could not make up my mind that easily. Strange.

By the time we came out of the jumbled ice, however, the paces of Ohba and mine were away too different. I felt the limit of my strength. I had one day off to recover, but I was limping as I felt sharp pain in my left leg. It did not seem to be getting better, and I decided to pull out. I was picked up at 6:54pm on March 25th and brought back to Resolute.

The air craft that picked me up

Once I came back to Resolute, I missed being out there on the ice very much, and as I watched outside from well heated hotel room, I felt like I could go back there and start walking once again any time. But I knew it would not take more than 10 minutes to change my mind. I regret very much, but I decided to put a period to my journey at this point.

Tetsuji Nagatani
March 28, 2008