Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
Day 3: Lighting Out
overcast, rain, 40 degrees F
16 November 2013
One of my favorite authors, Sigurd Olsen, used the term 'Lighting Out' to describe the physical act of leaving the comfort and convenience of modern civilization and heading out into the wilderness. For some, purposefully putting yourself in uncomfortable situations seems ridiculous at best. But for me, Lighting Out only brings a sense of tranquility. I love the simplicity of wilderness travel.

At roughly 10 am this morning, we clamored into the bed of an old Dodge truck that had been converted into transport vehicle. We joked that there was an equal chance of our being transported to a Mexican prison or the start of our climb as the truck with welded cage on the bed resembled a police wagon.

It was surprisingly comfortable in the back starting out but a we gained elevation the road deteriorated into two rutted tracks and we jostled back and forth holding on to the welded bars for stability.

I like the process of traveling up mountains if only to see the change in vegetation that happens as altitude increases. Today, we started in arid desert, then scrub, then lush moss covered forest. In a few hundred feet, treeline, the just rocks and a few short plants.

We spent the rest of the afternoon settling into a small climbers hut. Three levels of bunks support the comings and goings of various hiking and climbing teams. I am reminded of traveling to Darjeeling India by train and at dusk our narrow bench turned into a sleeping platform with two other platforms lowered above. Or its some alpine version of the Brady bunch opening scene - all the family members looking up and down and across.

We made a short scramble to around 14,300' to get a better view of the terrain behind us, but as often is the case, the clouds blew in leaving us to descend alone with or thoughts and the immense quiet of the mountain behind us.

Image: watching the clouds roll in... Again!
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