Day 12: I'm Still Here
30 December 2012 | sunny, windy, 0 F, 27.9 nautical miles
Despite making a snow wall, snow still drifted around the windward side of my tent completely covering my GoalZero solar panel. The blowing snow has become my arch nemesis not only in camp but on my bike as well. Just because I am heading back to Hercules means that this expedition magically has become effortless. Even with a tail wind, I had to do a bit of hike-a-bike today through soft patches and crashed more times than I care to count.
Almost two weeks out here and I have become an expert in routine -trying to save energy in every way possible. Clif Bars go in my right pocket, chocolate in my left. I set up the Hilleberg and then dig trenches for the Moonlander so it is sheltered and close to the tent door. Then the Ridge Rest goes in, clothes bag, electronics and food. In fact, I've even perfected a method of going to the bathroom while straddling my bike (you didn't want to hear that did you)! You can take your variety, I'll stick with the same old same old. No surprises that way, right?
Today, I spent a few hours contemplating the nature of Antarctic snow and ice. There were clearly a few times today when I was nearly racing down long descents. Then a climb again. The forces that have built this massive ice sheet then set it in motion continue to amaze me. At one point, I could see these rolling folds far into the distance. Pastoral, I thought, that is, except for the biting wind.
I wish you could trade places with me - just for a minute - so you could see for yourself. Of course, while we traded I might take the opportunity to sit in a chair, but then I'd want to come back. I am not lonely here. Sure, I feel terrible about not accomplishing my goal, but I'm in Antarctica. ANTARCTICA! Traveling like this: tent, eat, sleep, travel, eat, travel, eat, take a picture, travel, eat, tent, melt snow, eat, sleep... With so few physical amenities is one thing in life that I'm actually really good at.
Maria asked me the other day if I was enjoying myself. While I wouldn't necessarily call the seemingly endless struggle to bicycle across one snowdrift after another fun, I am actually enjoying myself. At least that's what I'm telling myself. I haven't had any trouble falling to sleep, that's for sure.
What else do you want to know? Gear-wise everything has been performing flawlessly. From my Wenger blades to MSR stove to Vapur bottle to Skratch candy and drink mix and more. I could seriously talk about each piece of gear, the reason I selected it and how it performed in infinite detail. Perhaps, I'll save that for my return. Of course, you should check out my sponsor page to see all the great companies (and people) who have helped make this journey possible.
To say I spent the day deep in my own thoughts is an understatement. A few times today, I actually laughed out loud At one memory or another. I thought a lot about my family, too. Maria and Merritt. My mom and Dad as well. They had come to Colorado to visit shortly after Merritt was born. My dad had shaved his head and was especially proud of his new haircut. He stumbled and fell, got lost and a whole bunch of other things as a result of Parkinson's Disease. He didn't hold Merritt the whole weekend, I suspect for fear of falling, but the last night the three of us posed for a picture: my dad, Merritt and I. The disease, I feel, has taken much of my dad away from all of us. But for that one moment, I'm sure he felt some sort of pride that his legacy, the one handed to him for his father, will continue for at least a few more years. No pressure Merritt :)
I am surprised by the fickleness of the wind. With no real observable changes in the sky, it dropped to a slight breeze leaving me in my tent in near silence and for the time being, warm and comfortable, with tomorrow's problems a lifetime away.
Image: The Moonlander, Antarctica and I