Getting ready for a long trip on the ice can take months, but as soon as I climbed on Jens Danielsen's dogsled and took off over the ice, I forgot all the stresses and strains. Traveling so close to the earth and ice and feeling each bump, each ridge and crack, a whole topography of ice coming up through my body accompanied by the steady chant of the dog pant. Oh, joy!
We were shocked when we took our gear on Greenland Air and were charged $8,000 for going beyond the weight limit. Photographer David McLain and I looked at each other incredulously. There was no sweet-talking the airline representatives out of it. We thought of how much that money could do for people in Greenland: scholarships to universities, oral history projects. We were angry and sad.
We slept like sardines in -59°F (-51°C) weather, didn't bathe for a month, and acted as if no one smelled bad. It's pretty quirky to get frostbite while going to the bathroom or to be invited into a house to eat kiviok—a kind of rotten meat—and pretend it tasted "just like French cheese."