Chain and huskies sounds
Bob Elvis, Elizabeth Arnold
Small plane flight discussion.
Airplane radio communications
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
30 Apr 1999
- 74.6841088 -94.9040222
DPA4006 omni mics; Sonosax preamp
Show: North Pole
Log of DAT #: 9
"Back in Resolute #2: Foley stuff, interviews with Pilot Bob and Aspirations Doug"
ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good
mics in sled
sled moves from left to right
sled moves from right to left
sled moves from left to right
chain sound with huskies
setting up tent
metal things dropping
metal scraping in snow
digging in snow
good moving around sounds
getting in tent
in the tent
flapping in wind
*good tent stuff
*running in snow
All right, so tell me who you are.
Okay, my name's Bob Elvis.
And tell me where you're from.
Calgary. Pilot with Ken Bork here. Captain of one of the airplanes that you were on going to the Pole.
What kind of airplane was that?
That was a twin auder, built in 19, I think this one was 73. It's an older one, but well-kept.
What's the deal with those planes? I mean, are they just the workhorse of the north or¿
They're the workhorse of the north from the advent of a whole bunch of years ago. They had the single auder, Dehavlin company made them. They have, of course they had the beaver and the single auder and they made the twin auder and when the twin auder came along with the turbine engines, it became far more reliable with heavier weights and longer distances and more fuel range. So they've been the workhorse of the north. Actually, our company, Ken Bork Air, they are the airplane of our company and the workhorse of the world for us.
Do you like that as a plane? I mean, is it¿
Well, absolutely. They're a good airplane. I've been flying them for a long time and they've been pretty reliable. I've never been stuck anywhere with them because of a mechanical breakdown or anything like that. So they've been very good to me.
How long have you been flying?
Since about 1974.
I just always wanted to fly ever since I was a little kid. My dad was in an occupation with the government of Saskatchewan where he was involved in forest fires and wildlife and we spent a lot of time as kids in helicopters and airplanes and it's been a fascination of mine ever since I was a kid so that's one of two things, I either wanted to be a pilot or a RCMP. Pilot won.
But you're not, you know, one of these guys who wears the uniform and sits on a big TWA jet. I mean, you're doing something completely different.
Yeah, what we do is completely different from the airline style of stuff. I've done that, the airline style of stuff, with the shirt and the tie and the artificial smile and the regulated work hours. Of course, we're regulated in our work hours also, but this is far more adventuristic because this year alone I've been on both poles in the same year. South Pole, North Pole. And it's an adventure and we travel around the world on a continuous basis.
Now what were you doing in the South Pole?
We work for a¿our company exclusively does all the twin auder flying in the Antarctic. We send 7 airplanes down every year. Some work for the U.S. government, some work for the Italian government in cooperation with other governmental agencies. There's also a tourist organization in the Antarctic. We send 3 airplanes there and that's the contract I was on this year. And covered, not only the South Pole, but pretty well three quarters of the Antarctic continent in the contract that I was on.
So the plane that's in the hangar, the plane we flew on, you flew up from the South Pole? What's that like?
Yeah. Well, it's, the South Pole in comparison to the North Pole, is that what you're saying? (EA: No, the flight from the South Pole to the North Pole.) Well, it's half the world. (EA: It sounds like quite a flight). Yeah, it's long and tedious, but we do it on a continuous basis. For us to leave Calgary and go to, down through South America, or we also have airplanes in the Maldives to go through the Middle East and deliver airplanes there, or even from Calgary to the North Pole, it's all part and parcel of the job. It's really nothing spectacular. It's just what you have to do to get the airplane to the job so that you can complete the contract that you're on.
Well, you must like the Arctic somehow to be wanting to fly around here.
Well, you have to, you have to like the cold and the winter, which I don't really much care for anymore, but I seem to get stuck here on a pretty continuous basis. But, yeah, there's some beautiful scenery in the wintertime as well as in the summertime, probably more so in the summertime when a lot of the snow is gone and a lot of the ice up north is gone and there's lots of wildlife, whales, seals, bears, and everything to see. This time of year you don't see much because of the ice pack. So yeah, for me, it's enjoyable, the scenery. Just the scenery that's available for you to see because we're traveling through it all the time, and also I do quite a bit of photography, so that interests me too.
It's a bit overwhelming. I mean, when we flew up to the Pole and you just look out, it's like being in a little boat on the ocean. I mean, you're just, you know, you can't see anything. I mean you must be much more aware of it than the passenger, that if anything goes wrong, you're in the middle of nowhere.
Yeah, we're in the middle of, we're very isolated when we're doing stuff like that, and that's the reason for doing all the precautions of what you've seen in the last 3 or 4 days in arranging the logistics with the different people that we've taken up. And the specific flight that you were on was probably a little more logistic-intense because of the remoteness and because of where we're going and maybe not so much the risk factor, but what if something did happen, a breakdown on the ice, we have the people in the airplane to take care of, to keep warm, to feed for the amount of time that it takes to get an airplane there to rescue you. And things have happened on the ice pack in years gone by where airplanes have had to go an a rescue and rescue an airplane that's been broken down or sunk through the ice or so on, but yeah, it's¿we do it as safely as possible. We do it at the recommended weights for the airplane and what we can carry and we don't go overboard on that. We don't exceed those weights for the simple fact that the heavier the airplane is, the more chance of something breaking with the more weight and it's also government law.
When those people get on the plane there, they're essentially your responsibility.
Absolutely. Put 6 or 7 people behind us and we're responsible for 'em. It all lays on my shoulders if something, if I do something wrong or make a mistake during that course of action or course of the trip, maybe somebody's gonna get hurt and I don't want that to happen, so I just take care of myself and everybody else is gonna be okay.
Flying around places like this and the South Pole as well, I mean what kind of people are you, what kind of people are you flying around?
Ah, we see all kinds of people. Rich people with lots of money or life has been very good to them and they want new experiences and they do to the North Pole. Expeditions, dog teams, people that want to ski to the Pole. I guess it's an adventuristic goal that people set and they want to go out and ski to the Pole. That's what they want to do, that's fine. We'll take them there.
Do you ever just scratch your head and say, "Oh my God, what is this guy doing?" or you know, "Maybe this guy needs another sleeping bag," or do you ever find yourself¿
Well, you know, you look at people and my only concern is is how do they get onto the airplane, if they're dressed properly, you know, with the proper boots and the jacket, because if we do have to spend a night on the ice here, are these people gonna make it? You know, we don't want to be responsible for lawsuits and frostbite and maybe somebody gets really sick out on the ice, so they should be pretty healthy and dress properly, and that's all I'm really concerned about. Other than that, as long as you can write the check, we'll take you.
But do you think they're nuts or do you understand that they're¿
Oh, I can understand it because, you know, I traveled taking the people that want the adventure to all these places. We do this for a living. And to me it's not work, it's still fun.
This may seem like a stupid question, but how do you know where to land? I mean¿
Well, Elizabeth, I like stupid questions. Just experience over the years and a lot of the guys that come up here are very experienced in what they do. Over 10,000 hours of flying experience and a lot of years in the Arctic and have kind of come up through the ranks flying with really experienced pilots and then graduating on to doing it yourself. And you learn through experience what you look at, what is good to land on, what's not good to land on. Ultimately, we like to find the smoothest spot available so it's not as rough and we don't have to worry about breaking anything. But there's complications in that, too. Lead ice and snow and the different weather conditions and temperatures, so it's just kind of a judgment call. When you find a place, you got to look at it and through the years of experience of looking at that stuff, you deem it as a good place to land, you go down and you land on it.
So you looking down as opposed to me looking down, you're seeing something completely different that I am.
You're looking at the scenery, I'm looking at a place to land.
Another dumb question: you must have had all kinds of crazy experiences, do you ever get scared? I mean, are you ever worried up there?
Well, I worry for people's safety that go up there and jump out of my airplane and start skiing. You know, they pay for that adventure. I guess I shouldn't worry about 'em, but you see people trudge off in some of the worst conditions, and you say, "Man, you gotta give your head a shake to be doing that." I worry about it in the context if I have to go rescue somebody, if there's a problem and we have to go onto the ice and maybe it's not an appropriate landing spot. You know, how long can that person survive out there before we get to 'em. Weather conditions, everything being an ideal situation, we can get in and get somebody out real quick, but if the weather goes bad that person might be out there for 3 or 4 days. You know, so we worry about 'em, but, you know, not to the extent that I'm gonna stay up at night, you know, losing sleep about it.
But having had pulled people off the ice or out of places that went sour on them, that gives you much more reason to worry when you see these guys get on the plane who aren't prepared.
Well, I don't worry about it because, you know, they're paying the money and we're taking them, you know. And if they're dressed properly, that's all I worry about. What you do after that, go, you know, fill your boots, freeze your butt, I don't care.
Can you explain the fuel cache in lay, in a way that people can understand. Why when we went up there did we have to have a, start offloading drums and doing all that?
Well, very simply, when you have an airplane that's going to the North Pole, the airplane can't go all the way to the North Pole and then back. So we have to supply it with fuel halfway, 300 miles out of Eureka, 2 airplanes go up. One carries the fuel, the other one carries the passengers. We stop at the fuel cache. He takes the available fuel that he needs and for the weights he requires. Then he goes from there to the North Pole, comes back, and I'm still sitting there as the rescue airplane with available fuel for him, because he now need more fuel to get back to Eureka. So the reason we put the fuel there, at whatever spot, is usually because it's a good landing spot and it's about halfways to the North Pole, so that's 300 miles. And then, in the event of any sort of emergency, that plane can go to the North Pole, that's sitting at the fuel cache, and help out a distressed plane or, you know, passenger that's sick or whatever the case may be. So the fuel cache is essential to our operation because, really, we'd get to the North Pole without the fuel cache and sit there, because you wouldn't have any gas.
Every once in a while, I get to say, "Man, this is great. I really love my job. This is why I do my job." For me, you know, going to the North Pole was one. What's an experience where you said, "This is the best job. I love this job."?
Well, I think I've been saying that for the last 20 years. You know, it is a good job and we travel the world with our company. And they treat us very good. We do some pretty extreme stuff. We see, this year alone, I've been on Mount Vincent in the Antarctic where I've watched guys in winter conditions climb to17,000 foot summit. And some of the scenery there is spectacular and the people that you meet are very interesting people, rich people that just want to play in playgrounds nobody has been before in. Lots of people are very interesting to sit and talk to. Lots of people are very arrogant, too, and you don't want to talk to 'em, but, you know, it's just, for me, the enjoyment of seeing the world on a continuous basis and doing what I like to do since I was a kid, and that's fly airplanes, and what better playground to have for myself than the whole world.
Do you think that the concept of the North Pole's kind of crazy in that it's not really a fixed place and it's, it can be one place one day and another place another day?
Yeah, well, it's, you know, it's not a concept that's non-understandable to me, because the ice moves, it's part of the summertime effect of ice breaking up and it moves. It's just an ice flow up there, you know, you land the North Pole or as close as you can get to it and you can walk over to the North Pole, an hour later, you're not going to be standing on it. So you got to continuously walk to stay on the North Pole. It's totally opposite at the South Pole.
Well, some people expect a striped, you know, a striped red pole¿
Yeah, you know, it's surprising, the amount of people, you know, that get off the airplane and they look around and they say, "Where's the Pole?" And it's just not there. You know, bring your own, plant it in the ground.
All right. Is there anything else I haven't touched on?
No, I think you did everything.
What are you called?
No, I guess we're just a different breed of northern pilots. Worldwide. You know, we do extreme stuff that other pilots or other companies don't do. You know, we're in Russia and we're in Peru and we're going places that lots of people don't want to go.
"Bush" doesn't even do it, I think you're more "extreme."
Yeah, we're on the edge of the stuff. You know, like mountain climbers are on the edge of their profession, you know, like ranked number one and number two in the world. Those type guys are crazy, you know. And we're the guys that take them to those places, so we're kind of ranked number one, number two in the world, too, you know.
That's what I keep thinking. I mean, really, when it, the common denominator here is the pilot. I mean the pilot has to get all these crazy people, superhuman people, rich people, you're the common denominator. You're the one who gets them there.
We're the guys. We're the guys that do this stuff to get people to go do their exciting treks in their lives and it's fun for me.
Boy, I bet they just want to pour their guts out to you pick 'em up.
No. No, I don't let 'em do that.
plane flies by from right to left
radio sounds from airport control
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold in my life. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold in my life. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the top of the world.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I'm standing where the sun never sets. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold in my life. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the top of the world.
EA 1:03: 14
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the pack ice of the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold in my life. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I've never been so cold. Join us on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the pack ice of the North Pole.
I'm Elizabeth Arnold and I'm really cold. Join us tomorrow on Morning Edition. We'll be on a moving sheet of ice 90 degrees north- the North Pole for a National Geographic Radio Expedition.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I'm standing where the sun never sets. Join us on tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic, that sounds so canned¿
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I'm very cold. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
Join us tomorrow on a moving sheet of ice 90 degrees north- the North Pole.
Join us tomorrow on a moving sheet of pack ice 90 degrees north- the North Pole. This is Elizabeth Arnold and I'm standing where the sun never sets. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I'm very cold, but I'm at the top of the world. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition to the North Pole.
For Radio Expeditions, this is Elizabeth Arnold. NPR News, Resolute Bay.
For Radio Expeditions, this is Elizabeth Arnold. NPR News, Resolute Bay.
For Radio Expeditions, this is Elizabeth Arnold. NPR News, the Canadian Arctic.
For Radio Expeditions, this is Elizabeth Arnold. NPR News, the Canadian Arctic.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and I can't feel my fingers or toes. I'm standing where the sun never sets. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic¿
This is Elizabeth Arnold and my hands and my feet are no longer with me.
This is Elizabeth Arnold and my hands and my feet are freezing. I've never been so cold. Join us tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition for a National Geographic Radio Expedition at the North Pole.
Aspirations Doug makes phone call
Hi, Aspirations Expedition. Doug Hall. Hey, okay. Thanks, I'm just trying to connect. I'm using the iridium phone. Thanks, bye. And that's what we would do is I'd have to give the name, Aspirations Expedition, and my name, and then the folks at Quest would connect us to a conference bridge that would allow us to have all of the key people online simultaneously.
And you were doing that.
Yeah, which was critical because just, you know, a point-to-point call, you've got multiple people to pull off something like this. You've got to have multiple people involved. So we had the webmaster, Kerri McCampbell, who was recording the call, grabbing snippets, David, who was doing the interview, and then we had the PR folks who are also coordinating, making sure that we were, you know, getting the information because we had to do calls the next day and following along. What's the news, if there was going to be an emergency or something they had to be prepared to act. You know, basically a complete team that was set up at the same time.
Every night to follow it. So 9 o'clock, it was sort of a radio show. And then the other thing we did, which was really, those folks could call and talk, listen and talk. And then also we had some lines set up where people could just listen and they couldn't talk and so my kids were on, my mom and dad were on, and then some other folks from the office, so they were, it was really neat. It was cute. One day, a mistake got made, and my daughter Tori's line was live and in the middle of what we were going on, she interrupted and said, "Daddy, when do you get to the Pole?" And all of a sudden we could hear her, and then she was like, "Oh, I can talk!" And then she said, as we were getting near the end, she said, my wife said, "Tori, you got to be quiet," because we had to get things done 'cause batteries real premium, 'cause the cold just kills the batteries. So we had to do it quickly. And she said, "I love you, daddy." Oh man, awesome.
Where were you?
Oh, probably about 110 miles from the Pole, you know, up in the middle of nowhere.
What did it do for you?
Oh, it, that sense of connection. You know we talk with Aspirations, with the Aspirations charity, about belonging as the most fundamental of things and belonging is that sense of connection, that roots, who you're connected to. And the phone and the pagers, that's what they do. I mean they gave you that sense. I mean when the kids said, "I believe in you. You can do it. I love you so much." I mean, when it's a little bit tougher, it's easier to get up and go. I mean, you know, in the old days, a picture, I had some pictures of the kids and that and they did the same thing and Debbie, my wife, had give some little notes that were sealed up, every one of the kids and her had sent notes and they did the same thing. It's the same kind of deal when you're looking at a picture, but when you can hear them or you see the words or the misspelled pages come in 'cause the kids have typed them in themselves, I mean it tells you why you're doing it and that you're doing it not so much for yourself. But in our case we were doing it for the wide world, but also the kids. I mean I know Tori would listen every night, she'd take the notes, and she'd go into her classroom and she gave the report in class as to what went on that night. And she said, she said, "Daddy," I've talked with her since, she said, "Daddy, you know the neat thing was, even the kids that don't listen always listened." It was so exciting. And my folks down at Florida, they're in Venice at the condominium place for senior citizens. It was the talk of the whole building. What was the 9 o'clock report? In fact, they were all bummed when we got there and they ended because it like, it was the most exciting every night to hear, you know, what was going on and our troubles and our joys and celebrations.
Every night was a chapter for them.
It was really a chapter and as it turned out, it really was a chapter, because something dramatic, I mean, I'd get up in the morning and I was really concerned that we'd have a day that was just, "Well, what happened?" "Cold, tired." You know, repeat. But it wasn't. Somehow, remarkably, every day had a different drama. The weather played a huge part in that and the conditions and the total unpredictability. That every day, for some reason, some times it got late in the day, 6, 7 o'clock, but then something would happen and it'd be like, "Now, that was neat. That was, people would love to hear that."
Well, you know, we've talked about what it did for you and for a number of the folks on the trip, but didn't it also do something for the folks who were listening? I mean, don't you feel like maybe they were along the way with you and they felt a lot more connected to it because they were¿
Yeah, they did, and I'll tell you, we found out because of the pager. I mean, it really was a system that we used, you know, there's hardware and software and the phones are nice and the pages are night, but putting the people and the connections together. When the pagers took off and people were excited, we put up on the website anybody who wants to send us a page around the world, you can send it to the aspirations.com website and they'd get 'em out to the team. Well, all of a sudden we started getting pages from South Africa, from Alaska, I mean people in Alaska sending out, I remember them sending a page saying, "We know the cold that you're in. You know, you can do it!" And from England all over the world we're getting these pages and it was like all of a sudden we realize that it wasn't 11 people going. There were hundreds of thousands if not millions of people around the world who are literally every day traveling with us and man, it made you feel good. Oh, did it give you¿it just gave you a strength and then went Dave went down and had such a hard time, Paul came to me and said, "How 'bout if we do the story on Dave tonight?" 'Cause the next day Dave had been strong and I said, "That's a great idea." So we got Dave in and he did it and then the next morning, Dave was moving a little bit hard and I said, "Dave, you check pages on there," and sure enough, he got it out and it was like it was exactly 30. Paul gave me a hard time afterwards, he said, "How'd you know? How'd you know?" I just guessed, but, and it's like he read through them and it was just, I mean it was gut-wrenching, because we literally put out a cry to the world to say, "We need your strength." I mean, you know, we need your prayers. And people responded, and you could just see him, I mean you could just see the life come back into him as he stretched out. And he'd gone through some difficult times. I mean the mind is really challenging out here. You've got to be in outstanding fitness, you've got to be in outstanding fitness, but then after that, your mind has got to be ready, because when it blows cold and when the sun isn't out, it's a pretty scary place.
Was, is there ever a downside? Was there every a time when you said, "God, I wish we didn't have these damn phones or these damn pagers. I wish I was out here and nobody could connect with me."?
No, the, I thought that might be the case. I went to New Hampshire on a training because we, having worked with corporate America as much as I have, I'm a little bit anal compulsive about rehearsing. Everything had to be rehearsed. And so I went on a ski trip to New Hampshire, and I brought the pager and the phone and we did a complete practice out in the backwoods of the White Mountains. And we, off-trail, we did that, and there were bugs with the phones and, 'cause they've got quirks, 'cause it's early technology and we had to do some work-arounds to make some stuff work and I was out there, and I remember I was skiing, and it was backwoods, going down and there's trees on either side up there and the pager went off and I had it setting to beep, and it was a particularly tricky thing, so I didn't bother with going for it. And then it went off again and then it went off again, 'cause they were concerned I wasn't responding, and I was about ready to take the thing and chuck it right over. But, you know, there I was an hour from the lodge and it's very different than when the plane lands and you're out there. Out there, it was the greatest sense of warmth. I wore it, my pager right on my shirt. My wife had sewn some pockets right on the shirt, so to keep the batteries warm. And so it would sit there, I mean it's corny, but literally, right over my heart and I had to set, the thing set on vibrate, and she'd go off and it would vibrate and when you're traveling, then you wait to the next break because you have to go through all the layers to get down to it. And it was just a, I mean it was a warm feeling. I mean, there's a, there's a wonderful thing in the interaction. I'll never forget, we did a thing, we'd gotten into camp late, it was 1 o'clock in the morning eastern time. We did a report. 8 o'clock the next morning Alan Humphries is in. He's just gotten a page from Ireland responding to the telegram that I had just dictated that night and it was like, wow. I mean, this has gone around the world and back.
From where you were.
Yeah, from where we were. I mean, we're literally at the end of the earth, 1600 miles north of Alaska, way out there on the edge, and we've literally sent a message up and back. And it was that feedback loop. That's part of what really made it work was that cycle of the stuff going out and coming back. That you knew that people cared about you and you knew that people were praying for you and were behind you. And for my case in particular because I was a total neophyte at this thing. I mean, I had to go through an intense physical thing just to get ready for it and I was scared to death so I probably trained, overtrained relative to others because I had no business doing something like this. It really helped me. Now, I don't know, I mean some of the folks who were more experienced, I mean they've gone hanging on Everest for years, maybe they didn't need it as much, although it really seemed like it. It just kept you going.
You know, now they have, you break these things down. You do Everest without oxygen. Now they'll be like, Pole without iridium phones, Pole with iridium phones.
Well, and I really think, you know, I think it would be irresponsible to go out without an iridium phone on these things and we've had some debates about it, 'cause some of the old timers don't think that that's, that they like to tough it out and go do it, but I've¿my business, I invent products for all kinds of companies, and one of the ones I've had, I've done a lot of work for happens to be the Hillenbrand industry, makes space for caskets and that, I've worked in the funeral industry. And in the funeral industry they talk about the fact that, you know, people say, "I don't need a funeral. It just doesn't matter. Just cremate me and do it." And that's a very selfish thing to say because the funeral has nothing to do with the dead person. The funeral is for the people that are living. And you may not need a phone if you go out solo out around Greenland, but I'm telling you, the people back home, your family, your friends, your loved ones, they need you to have a phone. So bring it for them if you're going to do anything. It would be very selfish to not take one. Especially, I mean, the thing weighs nothing, little tiny thing, and if you don't use it, the batteries don't die. You know, it really is, it is a remarkable thing for these remote outposts.
Phones and pagers aside, this was the most remarkable experience of your life. One of them?
Yes, it was clearly a transformational experience for me. In my case, I had, when I was very young, 12, 13, I broke my hip playing football and had been very physically active and was basically shut down for two years in Boston Children's Hospital as they thought I wouldn't walk again. The doctor operated, I got to walk. He thought it wouldn't happen. It was the first time it had ever been successful for him. And, and in the process, took up magic, and kind of got in my own business and had been very successful in business, extremely successful. And so this was an opportunity for me to, I mean I lost a ton of weight, and got literally in the best shape in my entire life. And so for me it was an opportunity to reclaim sort of a physical self and the archetypal mode for me were miles sort of 6 through 9, the sort of, just near the end. Craig, who's in phenomenal shape, and I sprint skied with our packs on and we'd worn our backs pretty much the whole time. We're some of the few who did. And we literally were racing each other and to be able, after all that time, to still race and do it was like, physically, was just, and with you there. I mean, you know, we were¿and to be able to do that and feel good and not be sore the next day and do it was just, it was like yeah, you know, life is more than just using the mind. And this was an opportunity to stretch the body to a real edge. To really, really push it to an edge in a harsh environment and that's neat. It really is neat.
Has it changed your perspective, do you think?
It really, the other part that happens is you take a lot of stuff for granted, and I'll never forget in getting back about 3 in the morning and being in the shower and, as the grime's scraping off and as you're warming up, as you warm up all of a sudden you see aches and pains that you didn't have.
And someone's out there going, "How long you gonna be in there anyway?"
And you really, you appreciate little things. You appreciate little things. And, and somehow, it's like, we've gotten so high up where survival and food and shelter and lots of things are so basic nowadays that we get to such a high level that we're working on this higher self-actualized that we take for granted many other things. Now you can learn to appreciate the basics in life and things if, you know, if, probably if you get sick or if you have a bad illness or if you lose your job, which is very cruel. But by going on a trip like this where it gets very minimalist, the amount of gear that you have, what you're trying to do, then all of a sudden you reawaken, you know, an appreciation for life and I know, I mean, going back, from with my wife and I, I mean we've talked about it on the phone, I mean. Even though I haven't seen her in three weeks, I mean we're much closer now. Because just having gone through it, and for me, the journey really happened way before this because I had to so intensely work out to get ready, is that there's a connection here. And part of it is that she was able to follow it and send messages, and she really feels like she went on the trip as well.
So we're back to the phones, really. I mean that brought her along.
I can't imagine doing it without them. I really can't imagine doing it without them. I mean, it would be a very, it would be selfish. It really would be selfish. And, but the, the challenge with doing it is in the way that we did it, was to broaden such that this wasn't about Doug Hall out going to the Pole. I mean, in the grand scheme of life, that's kind of irrelevant. But by being able to bring the charity into it and to get kids involved, you know, I don't know if you saw it, but I mean on the plane there, David brought up a CD that had been burned with the kids' dreams and aspirations. And I buried the time capsule there. And it was, I mean, to me it was very emotional. It's like, you know, there's kids out there who are saying, "Hey, I can be somebody. I can do something." And that's what it's about. It's about saying, "I'm gonna push myself to the limit." And I feel like I got to the limit and I was still standing. You know, I was still standing and I could still do it and that just gives us strength. I mean, petty stuff, at the office or with clients who are talking about problems. You don't know problems until you've sat there in a white out and you're on your hands and knees trying to find the damn ski tracks and the dogs are looking at you like, "Hey, idiot! Which way are we supposed to go?" I mean, we're you're going straight into the wind, the north wind, man, that's tough. That's tough. And going into the water and swimming in the Arctic Ocean, just true terror, but, and I, you know, I go in, I fall in the ocean, I'm literally swimming, the side's breaking loose, I look up and everyone's frozen in fear and one guy, 69-year-old Corky Peterson, comes out over the ice. Now the edge is breaking away, and Corky comes out, gets down, gives out his big paw and helps pull me out. Now he says I could have gotten out anyways, but you know, man, you know, what a guy. I mean, what a guy. I mean, Corky is, I mean to me, he's the big hero here. I mean, he really, he was just so inspirational the way he just, I remember skiing up behind him once, I was sort of encouraging him, you know, "You can do it, you can do it." And he said, "I'm going at full throttle." I said, "Are you sure?" He says, "Yes, I'm sure." I said, "Okay, then that's good. Then that's good. As long as we got full throttle here."
EA asks to play with the pager
pager beeps and alarms
But they're all set on vibrate, which really was the way to do it, because there was no urgency, relative. The one time we would put them on sound was when we were communicating back and forth with the planes and when there was issues with planes and that kind of stuff, then Paul's would be set loud, just because we had to be aware and to be able to dial back.