Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
Day 7: Level 1 Polar Training
Eric Larsen
18 January 2020 | Lake of the Woods
In any adventure there are moments of pure joy and elation where you canâ??t believe that you are in that place and having that experience. Then, there are the moments where you are down and overwhelmed and the only thing that you want to be is done and safe. I am always amazed at the roller coaster of emotions that occur on a big expedition.

As well as your priority shift... Iâ??ve always said that the best way to determine what is important is to remove everything else from your life and very quickly you determine the difference between want and need.

While we may not have experienced the extreme highs and lows of a big polar expedition, this course is challenging and one that definitely teaches bigger lessons. We all are coming away with new perspectives and new insights.

We finished our final full day of polar training in fine winter form. The wind had picked up considerably during the night and the ground blizzard on the ice quickly turned into a full-fledged whiteout. We spent the day navigating by using the compass bracket. The whole group - Gus, Phil, Nathan and Jason all took a turn at being out front - and did pretty well I might add.

In a whiteout, it is impossible to ski in a straight line so we strap a compass onto our chest and ski looking down at the needle (itâ??s impossible to see the horizon). Itâ??s not a perfectly straight line that we ski in, but itâ??s better than going in a circle. Every so often weâ??ll look back. If itâ??s single file, the navigation is spot on. If the line is curved, weâ??ve veered off the bearing. Itâ??s simple and difficult all in the same motion.

The stress of unknowns about this trip are slowly fading as we approach the finish line. The conditions, the ability of the group... The group has gained a level of proficiency that impressive to witness and we spent the day stretching our polar ski legs and making good mileage. At breaks, we joked and laughed knowing that we had all pushed through some hard moments at times.

And this is the beauty of wilderness travel. We get to remove ourselves from our daily grinds and live in direct concert with nature. Our actions here have immediate consequences. When it is windy, I add another layer and am warm.

I jokingly suggested that I had changed everyoneâ??s return flight and that we would be spending another week on the ice. Everyone laughed not wanting to give there first shower they would be having in a week. But there was some interest as well.

Still, it wonâ??t be long before we unload our sleds, change out of our base layers and go our separate ways.

But all that isnâ??t until tomorrow we still â??getâ?? to sleep one more night in a tent :)

Image: whiteout
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