Wednesday, April 24th, 1985 (Day 7)

Ice Fishing, Departing Lake Hazen, Arrival at Grise Fiord

When we left the pole, our plane circled and watched the other plane take off just to make sure it was safe. I took a picture of the lift-off but I think my lens was all fogged over so the photo probably won't turnout.

There was pure excitement and disbelief aboard our aircraft. Here were four guys sitting together that had just walked on the pole. We were all in another world.

We flew to Camp Opal to refuel one last time. We all then re-boarded one plane. We took off from Opal and just enjoyed the beauty of the Arctic Ocean. When we reached Ward Hunt Island, the northern-most point of land, I started taking more pictures. One of my pictures should show four musk oxen huddled together.

We landed at Hazen at 10:30 PM. Our dinner consisted of fried chicken, rice, and beans and carrots. I was famished. It was a fabulous dinner.

After dinner, I started to write in the log. Pat asked me at 12:15 AM if I wanted to go ice fishing.

A slight digression first. Earl handed out "North Pole" cigars. Pat had one. So I went outside with her and took pictures of her smoking in a midnight sun. I also have three beautiful pictures of the midnight sun. Now back to the story.

I said sure. She said, "OK, let's go". Well, it was 12:15 AM and I was tired, but how many opportunities do you get to go ice fishing in the sunlight at midnight.

We boarded a Ski-Doo snowmobile with Matt as our driver. As soon as we took off, we spilled the machine. It is extremely bumpy out here. So we all learned how to lean.

We drove 2 miles across Lake Hazen to the Ruggles River. Due to the high velocity of the river flowing into the lake, it does not have a chance to freeze. So we parked our Ski-Doo and began to dig holes in the ice with a 7 foot pole. After the ice was broken, a tin can with holes in the bottom was used to scoop out the broken ice. We then took tree limb fishing rods (where they got these, I'll never know) with line attached and all they had on it was a 3 pronged hook and a metal fly. We simply dropped the hook through the hole and let it bob up and down.

We had no luck at the first set of holes (which consisted of 3) so we moved on to dig a new set. We were out about 20 minutes and had no luck. We decided to give up because we were getting cold.

So we boarded the Ski-Doo and drove back home. The ride back was more exciting. Matt decided to blaze his own trail. So he took off across the lake dodging mini-icebergs that were up to 1-2 feet high. When he approached the entrance path, he veered away saying, "Wait, I've got a better idea!"

He drove around the plane across the lake and turned around. He said "Hang on!"

He floored the Ski-Doo and headed right for base camp. When he reached the edge of the lake, he hit the snowy embankment and flew through the air. There were 3 of us above the Ski-Doo about a foot. We continued flying up the hill hanging on for dear life. We made it, but it was quite a ride. Remember, all of this time, we were dragging a 12 foot sled behind us that carried our digging pole. I had a tremendous time. It was about 2:30 AM when I got to bed.

I got up about 9:45 AM and had an excellent breakfast of french toast, maple syrup and sausage. By the way, you can see your breath in the bathroom. I've already said that.

The days activities consisted of boarding the plane and flying to Fort Conger. This was an old fort that was used in the late 1800s by Robert Peary. It is amazing thinking what some people had to endure. I was actually more fascinated by the ice pressure ridges. So I spent most of my time walking around on the ice taking many pictures. We then left Fort Conger and headed back home to Hazen.

After we landed, Pat informed us that we must close down Hazen and move on to Grise Fiord. We rolled up our sleeping bags, turned off the stoves, threw away all of the drinking water, and packed to leave. We laid our baggage on the sled and walked down to the plane saying good-bye to one of the most beautiful places I've every stayed.

The glacier I photographed from Hazen to Eureka is called the Henrietta-Nesmith Glacier.

We had to refuel in Eureka, and then continued on to Grise Fiord. We left Hazen at 5:21 PM and arrived at Grise Fiord at 9:00 PM. We lost an hour due to time changes, so it was instantly 10:00 PM. Hazen was actually on Grise time, but we left our watches on Resolute time while we were there.

Grise Fiord is a comfortable place. We were back to 2 people per room. My roommate was once again, Nigel. There was a water shortage in Grise so we could only take showers interspersed. 2 in the night, 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, etc. Now to decide who should go first, Pat made the only fair decision she could think of. Alphabetically! I have never been so happy to have a name like Antol.

The shower was wonderful. We take for granted being clean. After the shower, I had a nice supper of fried eggs, toast and honey, and milk.

The beds are bunk style. I slept like a baby all night from 12:30 AM to 8:00 AM.

copyright (c) 1985, 2000 Robert A. Antol

For more information, contact Bob Antol
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