Around 8 p.m., I caught up with George, who was pushing his bike. He has been walking for hours, he is burned out. Graham left in front. George admits to crying, it’s poignant. Difficult, impossible, to hide your emotions when you draw so deep into yourself. I encourage him as best I can and go a long way behind him. His cracked morale is improving. He seems worried about the route. We have to find a fork on the right, we must not to miss it. We take the time to study the map and find the solution. Another 20 km, no need to add more.
George will actually arrive the next morning, after 3 hours sleep a few km from Nicolai. He couldn’t take it anymore, he was exhausted. I spin through the night, hypnotized by the beam of my headlamp, looking only at my skis. I unplug the brain, in a daze. I go forward, I go forward, I go forward. After several hours, I see the sign “10 miles”: another 3 hours and I will be warm. Alas, seven skidoos pass me making the track impassable, very difficult to ski.
I’m starting to hallucinate… It’s time for me to stop, rest, rest. 2 am, I finally enter the village of Nicolai. The kitchen is still open. Despite the late hour (morning?) volunteers offer me 2 cheese burgers. Another king’s feast. I find Graham who scrutinizes, worried, the beacon of his friend, still on the track. I learn that we have changed hours and that it is already 4 am. An hour lost, I really needed it … I go to bed around 5 o’clock. I have been traveling the track for 24 hours, I am completely drained, exhausted, but happy with this extraordinary day of skiing, the 90 km covered.
Jean Louis Etienne, “doctor of cold expeditions”, said: “We don’t push our limits, we discover them”. I fall asleep on this thought.