by John Huston
The last two weeks have been a blur of travel and preparations. Two weeks ago Tyler and I were in Ely, MN traveling and training, it was -30°F or colder for 4 nights in a row. Last weekend found us attending the Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City, where it rained for 48 hours straight. This past week we have been back at our homes in Chicago, IL and Ely, MN.
We depart for the first leg our journey, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, next Sunday, February 8. We will spend a few days there buying food and a few other supplies. On February 11, we fly to the Iqaluit, Baffin Island, where we will spend the next two weeks training, acclimatizing to the extreme cold and relaxing before we hit the ice on March 1.
The last few weeks and days before departing for an expedition can stir a whole mix of emotions, I've compiled a short list here in an effort to give you a small window into our brains at this time.
• Stress. We can feel like a bit overwhelmed at times with multi-tasking and last-minute details. Sometimes we wish there was a few more hours each day. It is a strange feeling to take all the necessary steps to put our lives at home on hold for three months. Bills have to be paid in advance, all of my belonging have to be placed in storage, taxes have to be taken care of and I have to finish packing for the expedition (that's the easy part in some ways).
• Exhilaration and excitement. Our three year project is finally entering the execution stage and we cannot wait to start the simple life of a long distance ski-expeditioning.
• Longing for loved-ones. We have not left home yet, but the thought of leaving our families and loved-ones for three months can be difficult. It is difficult in the empathy we feel for their experience. Because Tyler and I are engaged in the expedition, time for us will pass relatively quickly. However, how time passes for our loved-ones at home, who are often worrying about us, can be a challenge. On the ice our warm memories of home are extraordinarily important. This week we are doing our very best to add positive memories to our memory banks.
• Longing for food. We will experience this emotion quite keenly on the ice. So now, we are filling our gullets with our favorite goodies. On an expedition I often day dream about long drawn out meals at my favorite Chicago ethnic restaurants. This week I am anticipating those fantasies and trying to live out those day dreams. This quest also adds a few ounces to my expedition-ready frame.
• Nerves. We'd be lying if we told you we were not a bit nervous about the expedition. We are very confident in our preparation and our choices, however a few butterflies always flutter in the stomach at this time before an expedition. Why? It's different for each person, but for me it is likely the anticipation of the unknowns of an expedition like ice and weather conditions or logistical problems. The butterflies vanish as soon as I hit the ice, which is when these unknowns turn into tangible realities.
Until next time, thanks for reading,