8 December, 1996
Today has to be our last trip to the ice edge, at least by skidoo. The trip is getting difficult and our bodies seem to take several days to recover from the ride. It was especially difficult for Chris because he strained his back on the way out. He didn't complain but we all knew he was in pain. We were getting first hand experience in Newton's First Law of Motion, which roughly says, a mass in motion will stay in motion unless a force is exerted on it. The mass that was giving me so much trouble was my backpack. Whenever the skidoo hit a crack, its direction of travel would suddenly change while my pack would move in a straight line. I was in the middle trying to keep the pack, the skidoo, and myself on the same course. Something had to give. Sore backs were not the major problem. Here is a more serious dilemma. You're 10 miles from your research site and you come to the crack in the sea ice shown in the picture. The crack runs for miles to the left and goes up to a 100-foot glacial wall to the right. The object is to get four people and their 700-pound skidoos across. The people can jump across, but they then have a twenty-mile round trip hike. If you guessed, going as fast as possible, closing your eyes, and hoping for the best, you shouldn't be doing research in Antarctica. It really wasn't a dilemma, we knew we had no choice but to follow the crack to the left until its width became less than one third the length of the skidoo track. We've had enough training to understand that taking unnecessary risks jeopardizes science projects, our real reason for being here.
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