Life After the Poles!
sunny and 40 degrees F
21 February 2011 | Boulder, CO
And then it was over. Just like that. Home. Maria. The holidays. Then 2011 - speaking engagements, trade shows... I had gotten to the top of Mt. Everest and achieved the goal that I had devoted nearly every waking moment of my life for nearly four years. Now what?
During interviews, I always get asked one recurring thing, 'what's next?' I don't dislike the question. I'm just never sure how to answer it as I am equally worried about my/our present circumstances as well as the future. One thing is for sure, I'm definitely not going to Disneyland anytime soon. No offence Mickey. It's just how I am.
I talked with my good friend Ryan Waters today. He's been in Argentina since the beginning of January guiding clients up the tallest peak in South America, Aconcagua. It was fun to catch up and share stories about crazy weather, mountains, tents, climbing and the paradoxical nature of time.
On an expedition, there is you and there is ice (or rocks or water) and doing a long carry, skiing into the wind, waiting for weather and more can all make time slow to a crawl. Minutes seem like hours. Days seem like weeks. It can be agonizing on a good day. Conversely, the time I spent planning for Save the Poles flew by like nothing - almost four years of my life - gone in the snap of my fingers. Crazy. In our normal lives we are surrounded by so many distractions that time slips effortlessly, and sometimes, haphazardly away. I like that wilderness travel makes you appreciate more what you have and don't have.
If nothing else lately, I've had a few good laughs at my own expense: I spent this weekend cleaning the basement, last weekend fixing a dishwasher - A stark contrast from this exact time one year ago when I was scrambling to get ready for the North Pole. I started a part time job with Sierra Designs (read: dream job) so I've actually had to go to an office for the first time in 10 years. It's interesting to me, the path of life.
I've only been in a tent once since coming back from Nepal. A situation that I am hoping to remedy very soon. Don't get me wrong, I've still found time to get out: a snowshoe here, back country ski there, a winter mountain bike race in northern Minnesota, but I miss the woods, mountains and snow. It's important for me keep a close connection to wilderness.
On Saturday, I was out back country skiing and also managed a quick summit of James Peak. It was a gorgeous day, blue skies, warm. Despite a sore back and knees (still) I felt good on the climb and pushed steadily upward reveling in the effort. Nearing the summit, the wind picked up nearly knocking us down on several occasions and the temperature dropped quickly. I pulled my hood tightly around my face. At times there was so much blowing snow that it was almost a white out. And the cold? well... that was like coming home.
I rented a movie and sprawled out on the couch before attacking my big basement reorganize. Maria was gone for the weekend snowboarding in Jackson Hole, so it was just me and her dog Oli. No real agenda. Me, dog, movie, a pork chop for dinner. I have learned to appreciate my time however it is spent.
Image: Trying to find the snow on our way up James Peak about the St. Mary's Glacier.