Monday, January 24th, 2011

On January the 13th at a particular place in Greenland the sun rises above the horizon. It is the first time the sun rises at this place all winter, when the sun usually hides below the horizon and leaves this place in arctic darkness. On January the 13th the sun has done this for a long time, as regular as clockwork. This year the sun behaved unexpectedly. In defiance of our predictability of it, it rose 48 hours early on January 11th. But it was not the sun that was misbehaving, it was us. Our effect on the atmosphere is warming our small blue dot and it has lowered the level of the ice sheets in Greenland. The local horizon had changed and the sun was oblivious to us or our predicament.

Today I arrived home for a brief time. Enough to cuddle the teething little man, or as we now know him, Mr Dribbles. Then I was picked up by a friend and we headed for the hills to practice some more night navigation. When we stepped foot on the bog the darkness had already descended and the mist was joining it. Hill fog reduced the visibility to only a few meters. These were perfect conditions to follow bearings for nearly a kilometre and test our accuracy. The highlight of the trek was switching the head torches off and standing on the summit of the second highest point in the county of Antrim; Slievenenee, the ‘mountain of the warriors’. The wind whipped up around us and the land was a mere few meters in the foggy black, then beyond; only wild bog and the night. This was the highlight, but the low was that I have just discovered that there is a cairn on the summit and the wonders of technology, and the silent sentinel that is my GPS in my ruck, tells me that we stood only a few meters away from it. The mist robbed us of our pinnacle point. They say that when you summit mountains it is because they let you. The rain, bog, and thick fog were her friends tonight and she used them against us. At least she let us grace her slopes.