<![CDATA[It's Been 10 Years!]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262328 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_137770_scale.jpg'><br />What has happened to you over the last 10 years?<br /> <br /> I got to thinking about the past decade, because itâ??s been 10 years since I reached the top of Mt. Everest and the completion of my world record â??Save the Polesâ?? expedition. To this day, I still can't believe I pulled it all off. On October 15th, 2010 I stood on the summit of Mt. Everest. I was elated but also knew we needed to hustle. A storm was approaching and I thought, &quot;I hope we get down before those clouds and snow rolls in&quot;. We didn't. It was a total whiteout by the time we got to the balcony and a little while later, I had to get down on my hands and knees to search for tracks leading to our camp on the South Col. It wasn't until I got back to Base Camp the next night that I allowed myself to relax. We had done it: a small team of sherpas and I managed to summit Everest in Fall. The five of us were the only team on the entire mountain. It is a feat that has not been repeated since. I got lucky that's for sure. But I also laid it all out, too. I threw my heart over the fence in the hopes that the rest would follow.<br /> <br /> The financial side of things was crazy, too. For the North Pole leg, we used one of my expedition partner's house mortgage and his son's college fund as a rescue deposit. In the Khumbu, I remember being at Everest Base Camp and calling sponsors asking them if they had mailed their checks yet. I was flat broke and used my last bit of credit (on my credit card) to buy a new camera (a surprisingly good decision) before I left. Still, there was no huge financial reward when it was all said and done. I was 60 K in debt and really tired from over six months of expeditions.<br /> <br /> Surprisingly, I don't think about Everest that much (or talk about it for that matter). It was an amazing journey but I've been on a lot of amazing and challenging adventures both before and after. It's only when these bigger milestones come up that I stop, look back and marvel. The thing that is most impressive is simply the inevitable passage of time and the changes it brings.<br /> <br /> I'm a lot of the same person I was back then, but I'm also substantially different. I still love camping, cold and bikes (that's actually been a constant for 40 years). But I'm older, wiser (just a little). I'm not as brash as I once was and I like that about myself. I've seen trends come and go and even been on the leading edge of a few (very few). I had another knee surgery. And I got my first broken bone (but healed) of my life just this summer. I actually own a house (versus living out of my car). I have a wife and two kids. After Everest, I moved out of northern Minnesota (a place I loved) permanently to Boulder, Colorado. Then to Crested Butte (which I love even more). I wrote a book (with a lot of help) and made a film about our 2014 North Pole expedition (with even more help). Iâ??ve done more polar training courses and cold weather expeditions than I can count - four more times to Antarctica and the South Pole (I guess I can count). More to the North Pole. Iâ??ve also done a lot of smaller adventures as well. When I tally up my expedition successes and failures, they're pretty even.<br /> <br /> I'm still restless, however, and I spend a lot of my time when I'm home thinking about expeditions and most of my time when I'm on expeditions thinking about home. I've lost a bit of that new sheen and enthusiasm however as the result of being in a lot of difficult and stressful situations. I've spent YEARS of my life in a tent. Every once in a while, I think back to that wide-eyed perspective of some of my first adventures - when being on the trail for just two weeks was an adventure and route, gear and menu planning were more experiments than anything. I miss that feeling of novelty a bit and I envy the first steps I see any new adventurer taking. Lighting Out Sigurd Olson called it.<br /> <br /> Most importantly, Iâ??ve found peace of mind and fulfillment as a father and partner. To me, this has been by far my greatest success and anything I do or see now is only viewed through this filter. I love being a dad.<br /> <br /> Regardless, I canâ??t help but think of what it meant to reach for those lofty goals and push forward with everything inside of me in hopes of achieving them. Everest in the Fall was dicey and I was pretty scared most of the time. But I was supported by friends and family and my bigger message of documenting climate change.<br /> <br /> While so much has changed in 10 years in my own life, the worldâ??s last great frozen wildernesses have also changed. Glaciers and ice caps have continued a dramatic decline in both extent and volume. It is sad to know that the last 10 years have not seen significant progress on reducing carbon emissions and our climate continues to warm at an alarming rate.<br /> <br /> Spending nearly six months in the worldâ??s most extreme environments taught me a variety of valuable lessons. Solving big problems and challenges can be overwhelming. Oftentimes there is no â??bestâ?? path forward and the most important action is just taking that first step.<br /> <br /> Here's to the next 10 years!<br /> <br /> Image: Crossing a large crevasse on the way to Camp 2!&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262328'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Tue, 20 Oct 2020 23:05:02 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262328 38.0145 -106.0165 <![CDATA[KansATHON]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262327 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_152753_scale.jpg'><br />&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262327'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sun, 05 Jul 2020 13:20:03 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262327 38.0106 -95.0138 <![CDATA[Day 6 & 7]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262326 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_239780_scale.jpg'><br />With 40 miles left of road hiking ahead and an increasing heat index, we made the decision to switch back to bikes for the final push to Topeka. Gus was still feeling the effects of heat exhaustion and I had developed a fairly severe set of swollen feet and ankles due to, I believe, a bunch of chigger bites. It was so hot and humid the night prior that I couldn't sleep in our tent - even with the rainfly completely off. Needless to say it was the right decision not to continue hiking.<br /> <br /> &quot;You look like you're 90 years old from the ankles down,&quot; Gus remarked as we loaded our gear into our bike packing bags. i laughed out loud at the comment, but inwardly I was nervous that my feet and ankles would become a bigger problem. On longer adventures, little problems very quickly become bigger ones if not properly cared for.<br /> <br /> Luckily, our route to Topeka was almost straight North and the hot wind was at our backs pushing us along. We rode on more amazing gravel roads that were often so narrow and tree-lined that we were riding in a tunnel of cool shade despite the 95 degree temperature. In Topeka, we were able to follow smooth downhill bike paths nearly to the put in.<br /> <br /> Tanner met us there with the canoe and we quickly switched gear and shoved off. I am always amazed at the feeling of that transition from land to water. In the canoe, we were fluid, another molecule of water traveling with all the other molecules downstream. The Kansas was a little above average water flow so the sand bars were mostly covered and we made good time. A few hours later we rendezvoused with Tanner again for some help around the Bowersock dam and then we were off and paddling again. We wanted to make miles but it was getting dark so we found a low exposed sandy spot and made camp. 40 miles by bike. 28 by canoe. Not a bad day.<br /> <br /> We woke early again hoping to make miles before the wind picked up. We calculated that we might be able to make all 48 miles to the Missouri border in one push. Then tried to quell that idea. Anything can happen over the course of the day and we didn't want to give ourselves false hope. Still, we stuck to a rigid schedule of paddling and breaks as I monitored our progress on my Garmin inReach. Half way through the day it seemed like we might have a slight chance. Eating lunch while drifting down a long straight stretch with a tailwind increased the odds. By the time we reached Water One Coffer dam, we knew we could do it.<br /> <br /> We spent the last few miles admiring the river. I love flowing water and the Kansas did not disappoint. In no tome, we were at the confluence of the Missouri, the exact same spot where Lewis and Clark had camped. Adventure truly is everywhere.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262326'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Fri, 03 Jul 2020 00:00:03 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262326 38.0106 -95.0138 <![CDATA[Day 5: KansATHON]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262325 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_564867_scale.jpg'><br />The morning was cool after, the previous nightâ??s thunderstorm. It was a welcome relief and I packed quickly hoping to make the 2.3 miles to rendezvous with Gus before the temperature started rising. <br /> <br /> As much as I enjoy traveling with Gus and his positive demeanor, it was nice to be on my own for a bit longer. I like being quiet when Iâ??m on the trail and it gives me a lot of time to think and reflect (on what is a story for a different time). <br /> <br /> In no time, I spotted the red Old Town Canoe on top of my car that Tanner (my intern) is driving as support. Gus was ready and I quickly refilled water and was off again. For an hour, Gus and I walked side by side catching up on our past 24 hours of separation. For a while, Gus was nervous that his body might over heat again, but he slowly put paced me and we spent most of the day walking about 50 yards apart. I was glad that the Gusâ??s extra rest and day off had done the trick. As much as I like doing things on my own, I really wanted him to finish this trip with me.<br /> <br /> Like many of my expeditions, these stateATHONS are not super difficult on the surface. However, I usually set hard enough goals for each day and the entire trip that it, very quickly, becomes exhausting - which is the chess game I like. <br /> <br /> I also like seeing new areas and creating outdoor challenges in places that arenâ??t necessarily home to the worldâ??s most iconic adventures (adventure is everywhere by the way). But more on that later, too.<br /> <br /> For my part, I have been getting around five hours of sleep each night and on the move from before 7 am until roughly 9 pm. I can feel the fatigue creeping in.<br /> <br /> We stopped for a long lunch, then a couple hours later for a longer rest on the side of a side of under a shady tree. For a while, snores could be heard (not by me I swear).<br /> <br /> Hiking on the Flint Hills Trail was amazing despite the sweltering heat. Every so often Gus would stop and point and a minute later I would be at that same spot and see the cool thing he had found. At one such spot, a turtle had dug, and then backed itself, into a deep hole in the ground, presumably to lay its eggs.<br /> <br /> By the time the sun started setting we were still hiking and eventually logged something north of 20 miles. Not as much as we hoped but decent considering the temperature and humidity. <br /> <br /> Later, it was so warm at night that I couldnâ??t even sleep inside the mesh MSR Hubba Hubba with the fly off. I chose to sleep outside and only got a few new mosquito bites. Lucky me. Back at it soon enough&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262325'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sun, 28 Jun 2020 23:05:03 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262325 38.6406 -95.8831 <![CDATA[Day 3 & 4: KansATHON]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262324 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_906700_scale.jpg'><br />The dry wheat fields and sandy soil have given away to grass choked ditches and squares of dense broad leaf forests surrounding each farm house. The landscape and climate feels more like the Midwest than West. Last night, a squadron of mosquitoes dive bombed our legs and arms as we set up camp.<br /> <br /> But fireflies flickered all along the edge of the small field. â??I donâ??t think Iâ??ve ever seen fire flies before,â?? Gus the Colorado native exclaimed.<br /> <br /> The first 30 miles of the day were effortless as Gus and I joked about one random thing or another. A sign in one town informed us we were entering the hometown of Jackie Stiles (a former WNBA player). It was windier than yesterday which made the roast 90 degree and above temperatures mildly bearable.<br /> <br /> By noon the temperature was soaring in the mid 90â??s and by 1 pm, it was sweltering. So, we took a long lunch break in a shady park. Side note: even the smallest Kansas town has a really nice park. Back on the bikes, we veered north and stumbled upon some world class gravel road riding. Small narrow roads not much wider than a car rolled into the distance. Huge combines cut wide swaths across the adjacent wheat fields. We waved at them all and many had one or two kids riding along in the cabs. I wanted to veer off course and just keep exploring.<br /> <br /> By 4 pm the temperature felt like an oven, and after stopping for five minutes to mount a camera on the front of the support vehicle with Tanner, Gus became overheated. We didnâ??t think much about it at the time but after 15 minutes of riding, he was becoming disoriented and overly tired. Heat exhaustion with a little bit of dehydration mixed in for good measure. He had been eating and drinking a lot but it wasnâ??t enough to combat the effort we were exerting in the late afternoon heat.<br /> <br /> Immediately, we stopped where Tanner was waiting and poured ice and water over him. Then, then got him into the car with the air conditioning blaring. He started to feel better right away and after 45 minutes, we decided to keep riding. But he didnâ??t feel good and we again stopped. This time for the night. While we didnâ??t make our 130 mile objective (we rode 100 miles) for the day, Gus was safe (and alive) which is the most important thing.<br /> <br /> By the next morning, Gus was feeling better but still a little foggy so we decided it would be best for him to take a rest day and I would carry on solo.<br /> <br /> The rest of the 30 miles was a dream ride. Rolling expanses with views across vast fields. My legs felt strong and I was happy to be in Kansas. By 10, I was at the start of the Flint Hills Trail in Council Grove, a nearly 170 mile converted rail road grade.<br /> <br /> Gus and Tanner got a hotel for the night and I continued on solo carrying seven liters of water. I had my water filter along but I wasnâ??t super keen on drinking out of any of the small cow ponds I had seen along the way so far.<br /> <br /> I walked slow and steady in the heat, stopping at several shady spots for extended breaks. By 5 pm, the heat became unbearable and I took another long break, this time, laying down in the gravel along side the trail in another shady spot. I was tired and set my alarm to ensure I wouldnâ??t sleep the rest of the night. By 6:30, I was hiking again in temperatures that seemed to be cooling slightly. I watched the sun melt big and orange into the horizon, and as night descended, walked through black tunnels of trees glittering with hundreds of fireflies.<br /> <br /> I set up my tent around 11 after having covered 18 miles hiking. Not a bad dayâ??s effort. It was hot and I thought about not putting on the rain fly, but the lightening in the distance made me think twice.<br /> <br /> Three hours later, a torrential down pour brought sheets of rain and blinding lightening. I was glad I had put my rain fly on. With my small tent shaking violently in the wind, I snuggled down in my sleeping bag (it was much cooler now) and fell soundly asleep.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262324'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sat, 27 Jun 2020 23:26:00 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262324 38.6655 -96.9875 <![CDATA[Day 2: KansATHON]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262323 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/img_2363.jpg'><br />We woke early from our roadside / dirt pile camp eager to start riding. The morning was as pleasant as the prior evening and the sun seemingly flip flopped one horizon for another. Purple and orange clouds glowed brilliantly in the East.<br /> <br /> The headwind of yesterday had shifted 90 degrees and became a much more manageable cross wind. I gave Gus a crash course on drafting as we started pedaling. The miles ticked away as we rolled steadily forward.<br /> <br /> One of the challenging aspects of these adventures is coming up with a route. Basically, I begin the process by looking at potential hiking and paddling routes within the state. My arbitrary parameters I place on these adventures is that they have to be continuous traverses - no skipping or hopping over sections. Once I find the various trails, I look more closely at the map and try to determine if any are near a boundary of the state. If not, that’s fine - at this point I’m simply trying to assess all my options.<br /> <br /> Next, I start looking for a compelling way to connect the trails, roads and waterways that can start at one state border and finishes at another. This often takes a while and involves a lot of additional research as I try to understand the challenges of the route, opportunities for camping, availability of public land, access to drinking water, permits, water levels (and more) of each potential ‘leg’. Finally, I string them all together in a route.<br /> <br /> Often, there are a few different options that could work but one always seems to come to the forefront. In Wisconsin, I wanted to end in Milwaukee so I paddled the last leg. In New York, we biked into NYC (which was amazing).<br /> <br /> For Kansas, the major limiting factor was the hiking opportunities. Luckily, I found the Flint Hills Trail - the longest trail in Kansas. To hike the FHT, would also mean that the water ‘leg’ would be last. But to get to the Kansas River I would have to leave the FHT and veer north - hiking along roads to Topeka.<br /> <br /> Because of our later start yesterday, we set a goal of making 120-130 miles to keep on our schedule and reach Council Grove in three days total. We rode 60 miles by noon, but the weather began warming up eventually getting to nearly 100 degrees. The sun was baking us and at one point I felt the onset of heat exhaustion. Taking a few extra drinks, I was able to push through. We set the goal to take and extended break in Albert to rehydrate and refuel. Our body core temperatures were dangerously warm as well.<br /> <br /> Albert didn’t have much - only one gas station (kind of) but it did have a nice park and we relaxed in the shade knowing we could hammer out the last miles easily once we were rested. Within 20 minutes, however, the skies darkened then opened up with a torrential down pour. How lucky we weren’t riding!<br /> <br /> An hour or so later, the skies were clear and we pushed hard to reach a total of 128.1 miles.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262323'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Fri, 26 Jun 2020 08:12:46 -0500 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262323 38.5218 -98.6279