Imagine taking a step where no one has stood before. Once you have that sensation firmly planted in your being, imagine nearly 200 kilometers of skiing where no one had ever travelled before.
Imagine looking out at vistas of only white and blue with a horizon line that parts only these two colours and that you ski toward for days at a time.
Imagine a silence so profound that your heartbeat is the loudest thing you hear. For days at a time.
How do I begin to find words to describe a landscape so profoundly beautiful and stark at the same time?
How do I tell you about hours and hours of skiing where each stride bought a new insight or new ear worm?
How do I describe an expedition where we navigated from forty-year-old aerial photographs and an aviation map that had a warning that “horizontal features can be displaced by approximately six nautical miles?”
I just, just like on any expedition, I start with a single step, a single word in this case, and then continue to put one after another until the goal is reached.
Deep. Wide. Open.
Except for the swish of my skis against the snow. In a reminder to be present, I would bring my attention back repeatedly to the sound of my ski both gripping and releasing the snow. Both traction and glide. A bit like my mind both sliding over thousands of thoughts and gripping onto some.
We skied in hour-long blocks. In solitude for the most part. A 60 minute date with yourself. Repeated 4-6 times daily for 25 out of 28 days. Providing time and opportunity to listen to both inner and outer worlds. And to not listen, for there was little to hear, save the gliding skis and lumbering pulk sleds. And the wind.
The wind, along with its first cousin, the cold, often arrived like identical twins. Forever bonded yet inextricably separate. Rattling the tent like a doorbell gone bad or ripping through any opening in clothing to chill rapidly to the core. It usually arrived with gusto, breaking the silence of the place into shattered fragments between the gusts.
By a land so big and so vast that we are mere specks on the perpetual white carpet of the glacier, at risk of being swallowed up. By all that groundless space filled with endless brilliance of sun striking snow and the resulting dance of light in all directions.
For the privilege of traversing such a pristine and untouched part of the earth. For the sense and embodied knowledge of wilderness and wildness and wonder that comes from such a journey. For teammates on which to depend and for loved ones, deeply missed at home. Leaving to come home. Moving each day to discover. Back, but somehow, having left part of me amid the white, cold, blue world there.