Tuesday, April 23rd, 1985 (Day 6)

Arrival at the North Pole

I had a lot of fun sleeping last night. It was just like the old days. But I had one of the best sleeping bags you could imagine. All of the men were in a dormitory like structure. There were beds and bunk beds. I was on the bottom of a bunk but no one was on top. We all had sleeping bags especially made for arctic conditions. I slept like a baby all night. I woke up at 4:15 AM and the sun was streaming through the cracks in the shade. It was weird. I went to bed after seeing the midnight sun. It never sets. It just traverses a giant circle in the sky.

I woke up for good at 7:30 AM. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, milk, and orange juice.

I must make a comment on our bathroom. There are two of them. You can see your breath in there. It consists of a toilet seat and toilet lid on top of a bucket with an extended pipe leading outside. The bucket is "changed" once a day. Peter is in charge of that. He joined us from Resolute.

A span of time has happened since my last entry in the log. The reason for this is because I have been busy. I have been to the North Pole!

We received word from Camp Opal at 10:07 AM that the weather was satisfactory for an attempt. I have a picture of the two pilots conversing with Opal at the minute of our decision to go.

Prior to take-off, the pilots were refueling the plane. Elsieanna was sitting on a drum watching it all (a fuel drum). The gas started to get to her. She didn't feel too good. So the two doctors had her walk around and get away from the smell of the fuel. When we were ready to board the plane to fly to the Pole, Elsieanna was on the first step of the plane and fainted. A combination of fuel fumes and excitement got to her. Tom Largen caught her from behind and laid her on the ice. I thought, "Just great. What a time for her to pass out." It was only a minute when she came back to life. She was so apologetic about missing the first step. She didn't know she fainted. From there, we had no more troubles.

We left Hazen at 11:30 AM and flew to Opal to refuel our plane so we could make it to the Pole. Opal was beautiful! It is a scientific community based on the Arctic Ocean. It consists of several small huts and some radio equipment. One very interesting structure was the camp's toilet. It is situated out in the open with 4 foot walls surrounding it. The toilet is dug into the ice with a hole about 15-20 feet deep. I decided to try it.

The temperature was about 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. I must say, taking a piss out in the open in 20 degrees below zero weather is quite different. Refer to my pictures.

We then picked up a second plane. The pilot wanted 3 people who were very "hearty" to ride with him. I volunteered. The reason he only wanted 3 and the reason he wanted hearty people was because there were 4 fuel drums riding in the cabin with us. Also, a rather steep step was required to board the plane.

Pat remained on board with the old folks and Van, Nigel and myself boarded the second plane.

We were the first to take-off from Opal. The scenery from Opal to the Pole was actually quite beautiful. A very beautiful site was seeing the other plane outside of the port window.

I am still so excited! I have to get to the Pole portion of this adventure.

We were the first plane to land. The pilots were circling the pressure ridges trying to find a place to land. When our pilot finally located a "landing strip", he went in for the landing.

The landing was even more exciting than the bombardier ride we took in Eureka. It was extremely bumpy. It was fabulous! Our pilot then "drove" around our area checking out smooth places for the second plane. It was now 5:18 PM.

We then disembarked and proceeded to watch the other plane come in. It was fantastic! I took a couple of pictures of this landing. Van and I then ran over to the edge of the pressure ridge so we could take pictures. We each got pictures of ourselves. Pat then got out of the other plane and told us not to cross the ridge - it may be dangerous. Leads may be present. A lead is a section of open water.

It was absolutely the most beautiful site in the world! I guess I was expecting a flat desert-like area full of snow. Boy was I wrong! The North Pole is very scenic. All of the way around us were snow piles and ice piles. These are called pressure ridges and are formed from pressures so great that great ice sheets are pushed against each other and bunching of ice is the result. I hope my pictures bring this out.

I snapped several more pictures and then we had to group together for the planting of the pole. This pole is a red and white striped pole that symbolizes the location of 90 degrees North. We all had group pictures taken with each of our cameras. The photographer was Pat.

I was getting impatient. I wanted to go exploring. So after all of the "pole" pictures were taken, I ran around the pressure ridge. I was snapping pictures left and right. I then collected samples of snow for a souvenir. I had to be called back in from my explorations because they were ready for the popping and drinking of the champagne.

I was given the honors of opening every bottle of champagne. I saved the corks for souvenirs. Drinking the champagne was fun. It was extremely cold and turned slushy within a couple of minutes. It was then time to depart.

The portable toilet, called a honey pot, was being loaded in the storage area. It was originally in the back of the plane so people could be warm when they used it. I had to take a piss. So I went behind the plane and did it out in the open on the North Pole. It was 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

I boarded my plane along with Van, Nigel, Bob Kaller, and a bottle of champagne. Needless to say, that bottle did not last long! I was so excited. We left the pole at 6:38 PM. That one hour and twenty minutes was beautiful. I will never forget this for as long as I live.

copyright (c) 1985, 2000 Robert A. Antol

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