In the end it was a fitting way to conclude the expedition. We challenged ourselves to beat our record distance for a day by going about 23.5km; temperatures had gone back down to close to -20C, and the winds from the previous day had not died down too much so we had a headwind coming to us, just to make it that bit harder! But it was good!
The winds were so strong that when we were packing up the tent and everything, we almost lost the tent floor (a separate layer of insulated foam that we use to help keep the cold from the snow below us out). I got distracted as I was putting it in the pulk and the wind took it away from me – just goes to show that even until the last, concentration is needed for even the most normal of our every day tasks! I got it back, after running about 400m across solid snow and ice to get it, so it got me warmed up nicely while Natalia was able to get the rest organised. It still needed us both to take down the tent though as if the wind had got hold of that, we would definitely not have seen it again!
We still managed to leave our campsite an hour earlier than normal: we wanted to make full use of the day to make sure we were okay with the distance. But we were able to travel pretty quickly over the ice to Rankin – pleasingly so: going around 4.5-5km every 90 minutes (the time between each of our breaks), in spite of a more twists and turns around more rough ice and the remaining eskers. Our skins were well protected against the wind and the cold, and we were both able to re-adjust back to the slightly colder temperatures okay with no problem. It was funny, when we were in Rankin, we saw a couple of people who had been going to Whale Cove and back over a few days – they said that they stayed in their tent on this day as the wind was so strong.
We ended up arriving in Rankin at about 4pm and, while tired, still felt like we could have gone another 3-4km had we needed to. And that was it! Our entrance to Rankin wasn’t as extravagant as that at Whale Cove: we arrived in a deserted area of the town, the marine loading dock, and nobody saw us. It was even a little anti-climatic… no more skiing. After almost 5 months. We were lucky, however, in that we had made a friend in the town, Nathaniel, who was able to come and meet us, put us up for a couple of nights and show us around. Fantastic guy!!
The team in Rankin
Our final camping spot before the long haul to town