We had another tent day today - this time winds are up at mid-high 20s (knots) and temps a little below zero. It's so beautiful to look at all the wind forms around camp, from the large, soft dunes with ever forming ripples, to the hardening sastrugi between the food boxes and our favorites - elevated footprints. Also known as elvish footprints, these look like someone floated by and planted them on the surface of the snow. In reality, our heavy footfalls compact the snow just underneath us, and then the softer snow around and below is gradually stripped away by wind.
We thought we'd take this tent day opportunity to describe what we wear each day while we're searching. At the low temperatures and high winds out here, we have to put on a decent amount of clothes, from the tops of our heads down to our toes, before being ready to be out for eight hours. We feel a little like astronauts in our tent capsules, donning our spacesuits for our walks on the Moon. I'll start from the inside and work out.
My first layer is a mid-weight wool long underwear - and not to horrify anyone too much, but I typically don't change this for most of the season. Things are dry here (we never really sweat, because that's dangerous) and we either don't smell ourselves or just get used to it. 🙂 Next is a midweight fleece jacket, then a down pant and down jacket. A light wind layer on top and bottom really helps cut the warmth-sucking wind. My outer pants are a ski shell, my coat lately is - Big Red. (That's right, co-vets, I'm now out of Little Red, but gimme a break, it was 15 knots the other day!) This coat is down, comes past our butts and has a big, fur-lined hood. On my feet I have a thin wool liner sock, then a really mucho thick wool sock, then big white bunny boots, with a reflective felt footpad, thanks to Alex. If there is another 15 knot day, I'll use toe warmers, they just don't make their own heat like Minako's happily s teaming ones do!
Finally comes the most intricate zone - from the neck up. First, I don a skidoo face mask, one of those neoprene ones with holes. Then comes my big, lined wool hat with ear flaps (thanks, Melanie!), then over the top of that comes a wide-ish neck gaitor, which allows some air to come in, keeping the condensation and ice formation around my mouth from happening. You can see Minako's elaborately secured balaclava, which performs a similar function. Then we put on goggles (you can see me reflected in Minako's goggles with the cool, multicolor sheen), then my new addition this year - a ring of wolf fur at my forehead. This is a remarkably good wind baffle, and I can hear the Call of the Wild more clearly... Then I put up my down jacket hood, then my Big Red hood, cinching it down if it's really cold (leaving it off if not), and last but not least are wool glove liners and a down mitten.
Yeah, this takes me about 20 minutes every morning , from a racing start! But it works, and we're well protected against whatever is thrown our way. Cross your fingers for us to get back on skidoos tomorrow, recovering those meteorites!
13 January 2017
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