Elevation: 1 836 metres... Approaching the big 2000m! Today starting out was the 1st day I felt a bit of thinish air!
Hey, what an exciting day... Well, relative to my tough, mentally-challenging, 'normal' routine...
Firstly, I achieved my best daily average to date, 3.3 km/h for 9 hours, and yes that makes it a 30 km day! It wasn't all easy, but there was fun. I was so happy with that, you can't believe how good it felt taking off my boots, and climbing into my little tent, ready to devour a huge meal... Heaven on ice! What is always a bit scary when my boots come off is how my feet throb big time!
The day started with pretty average sastrugi, but almost windless for a change. The ice was pretty good, and I did good mileage for the first two hours, and then I hit the 'Serengeti of Antarctica', you'll see why I call it that further below. This plain that opened out in front of me was TOTALLY sastrugi free, and looked almost like a snow groomed, ski park... Well, was this fun, just what I have been waiting for for a while now. Suddenly 'we' were REALLY skiing, gliding along at amazing speed, feeling like magic motion, and the rhythm just flowed. The incessant tug, tug, tug from 'my friend' the sled was no longer there as the continuous glide meant the pull power was constant, making for a pleasant ride. It's like a boat on the water that suddenly starts gong fast enough that it 'lifts itself' out of the water and gets onto a much faster, low resistance plane. I was feeling so good, all my cross country skiing training at Snowfarm in New Zealand was now paying off... There was just the quiet sound of the ski glides, it was also fun and exhilarating, so much so that I even missed the stop time for a break... And that NEVER happens!
I was just then thinking about you guys and what I'd write about this in the blog, and next thing 'my friend' gave me a huge tug back that saw my shoulders go backwards, feet and skis in the air and me flat on my bum on the ground. I haven't had one of these for days, and this time, instead of getting angry with myself, I burst out laughing... I 'realised' I had run away with myself in the blog thinking, and 'my friend' needed to remind me that it wasn't all Howard good skiing, it was also 'her' slimmed down weight and performance glide rails! There I was, going to take all the credit! I agreed, and apologised, and we never had another problem again! This continued for 3 hours, the kilometres flew by, and my average speed hit 3.7 km/h at its peak. The scenery was breathtaking in its smooth starkness, but as I looked ahead, I knew it couldn't last....
Different sloping terrain has a slightly different ice white shade, and before me was this slightly more grey. A steep hill...
Well at the base of the hill was a sastrugi obstacle course that rapidly changed 'our' rhythm and then we were soon right into the realities of the hill that virtually on its own gave today's elevation gain. What a contrast. Antarctica was trying to break my spirit... It was straight back into noisy, slow 'plodding'. I've done quite a bit of that over the past few days, but the contrast to the 'Serengeti' was spirit breaking! With the plodding comes a motion like the gangling man, with two walking sticks, limbering from side to side tugging the sled each time, with a counter yank to the back and shoulders. The 'walking sticks' make a desperate grunt and squeak on the ice as they bite into the ice providing an anchor from sliding back, and stability, with some propulsion over the ice boulder terrain. The skis now make a loud, irritating clatter as I am forced to walk step by step, with unlikely efficient skis as shoes. The final humiliation comes as I glance to my left and have to watch my ridiculous looking shadow. It confirms I look like a drunken tramp, stumbling ahead, complete with all my belongs in a backpack and mattress strapped to its back! At the break, the GPS makes for depressing reading, as at 2.5 km/h it confirms Antarctica is trying to break my soul!
I finally make it to the top of the hill, and with relief I stop to view from where I have cometh: Well the view back was breathtaking, from the bottom of the hill the Antarctic serengiti, where I had had so much fun, stretched out to the far horizon as a lighter shade of shimmering ice white, without a blemish, save for three largish charcoal coloured 'lakes' that were formed by shadows for clouds in the sky.
With the hill behind me the last two hours of the day were not easy terrain but run on the motivation that 30km day was in reach if I focused!
Another good weather day, a little cross wind for a change and 'fairly cold' temperature.
I was hoping to dip below the 400km to-go mark, but at 403 that will have to wait till tomorrow.
Right, so back to the Purpose of Life!
Just put my down jacket on as it's getting a bit cold in the tent... I'm aleady in my sleeping bag, sitting up typing on the little PDA that is connected to the solar panel on my tent roof... Just to bring you right here with me. Now I carry on with my North Pole insight:
Firstly the purpose is to be a NETT GIVER in the world - ie in the broad scope of things over one's whole life one needs to have given more than taken. This is a 'gut feel' thing, but being on the dole, living off a community, not paying its taxes, cheating others, depending on others, or using them, without giving back, or helping others are all nett taking activities. I'm sure you can work out where you fit in. Anyway that's a BASIC for life purpose....
This may seem like a cop-out now, but...
I believe, trying to solve the question of "What is the purpose of life" is wasted effort as like a few other macro life issues, this one is one of our life mysteries and in not having a specific answer one is kept wondering and it's this unsolved concept that keeps us searching, exploring, learning and above all alive. If the answer was known to everyone, life would be boring... So...
On the Arctic that memorable day I concluded that rather than trying to find the answer to the question, we should rather just make sure: We don't WASTE our lives!
Waste is a very negative and harsh word, but it's meant to be, because to quote the old saying: "Life is short", so anytime we are wasting it it's quite a serious personal 'life cime'.
I sense those who aren't wasting their lives never have the need to answer the "What is the Purpose of Life?" question... They are living 'Their Purpose', and feel content.
So, this all begs the question: When are we wasting our lives, in terms of this 'Purpose of Life' concept?
Well that's where the Arctic thinking took me further, to how does one work out whether one is wasting one's life? But that's for tomorrow! There is a sound basis for testing; it's not all woolly stuff, so stay tuned!
I don't have to say it but I will: Please feel free to comment, either negative or positive, all adds value...
Cheers for today