March 2006

written by Kathy Sarns Irwin ~ photos by Kathy and Pat Irwin

5.Another Sunny Day

Around 30 below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the morning dawned clear as a bell. We were glad we were alive. Next trip - we agreed to get better sleeping bags. But for now we needed breakfast.

Pat got our pre-made frozen breakfasts out of the bike bags outside. I boiled water inside the tent in an attempt to get a little warmth. Our tent of no floor was breezy enough that it would be hard to get carbon monoxide poisoning. I boiled water and made coffee, then added boiling water to our meals as we enjoyed the illusion of warmth in the tent as the sun beat down on the yellow walls. I had mixed farina & oats plus 2 packs of instant flavored oats, powdered milk, butter, dried fruit in individual zip lock bags that I added about 1.5 cups of water to.

We were realizing how much more fuel we used for boiling water up here in the Arctic than in Anchorage. With the extreme cold, the constant wind, and the loose dry snow we had to melt, we were using about twice the fuel than we had planned for.

As we shook the fuel container to see what was left I got another Ping of fear. We should have known better. But it was almost April for crying out loud...yikes. Even though we both have extensive outdoor adventure experience...we had found a place where we felt like amateurs.

We packed up and got onto our cold creaky bikes, and rode into the sun.

My feet were cold. We had bought chemical hand warmers by the big box full at Costco and so I decided I would use them for foot warmers too. Well, hand warmers need more oxygen and do not work in the boots where there is no oxygen. After stopping and taking boots off in 30 below and who knows what wind chill and kneading the darn hand warmers over and over, with frozen hands, I finally got them to heat up a little in my boots.

I had frozen my feet during a 200 mile ski race years ago - when winning was more important than saving body parts...and I was paying the price now.