Later, as an adult, I was disconcerted to learn of all of the controversy that surrounded this famous expedition. For on their return, Peary and Henson learned that another American, Frederick Cook was claiming to have reached the North Pole a whole year earlier than they did. Cook was eventually proven to be a liar and a fake and spent time in jail. Peary was declared the first man to reach the North Pole. But that just seemed to open whole new can of worms when reports surfaced that Matthew Henson, in fact, was the first man to reach the pole. The story reads that Henson, racing ahead of the four Eskimos who were pulling Peary on a sled (his feet were frostbitten), actually planted the American flag on the North Pole. Peary maintained that he had planted the flag and the dispute continued. It wasn't until years later that Henson was given the recognition that he deserved.
So last year when I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China I gladly took it. The Bonus; we would be flying a polar route to get there. North out of Washington, D.C. into Canada and Greenland; over the Pole and down into Russia, and China. I had the pleasure of flying from Washington D.C. to Beijing nearly 100 years after Peary's team planted the flag and returned to doubters, disbelievers, and controversy. As we soared high above the ice and cold in April 2007, I couldn't help but ponder the present day controversy: Global Warming. Is the icecap really melting? So with camera in hand, I eagerly waited as we approached the geographic North Pole. Below you'll see some photos I snapped en route. The very bottom photo was take approximately 100 miles from the North Pole. I know these shots aren't great quality and may be a bit anti climatic but what do you expect? It's cold down there and it was a long way down (smile). But you be the judge. I haven't seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" but I now own the DVD and the first chance I get, I'll take a look. Clearly, the snow falling in Baghdad and my pictures from last year have really got me thinking!
You all take care now.