Beautiful frozen landscapes, melting forests, and an alpine beatdown in the Adirondacks.
Shivering. The pre-dawn chill awakens me with a shudder. Immediately, my mind turns to the early expeditions of antarctic exploration, and what the start of each day must have felt like for Shackleton's men. Feats of courage begin to turn over in my imagination as I rise to meet the elements, fantasizing that I am about to undertake some sort of adventure for the betterment of humanity. Channeling the inner-warrior, the long day begins.
Situations arise along the way that snap me out of my heroic reveries. Fast-flowing river crossings and deep snow drifts are only a few of the precarious obstacles my climbing partner and I encounter. The world is awakening after a long winter's slumber, and vigilance is paramount. My mind splits in two, half perceptive and half miles away.
Being present is half of the experience. The other half is seeing through the mind's eye. I'm an explorer, breaking trail where no man has stepped foot before. Rushing toward uncertain danger and toil. Seeking the summit while the wind blows snow into my face. Stringing together images in flip-book fashion. I am chasing Everest. I am on the moon. Lassie says the barn is on fire and that Timmy is trapped inside. Fabricating a series of reasons that justify being uncomfortable, thirsty, tired, and aching.
Carefully conducting a series of missteps through waist deep drifts, my snowshoes keep popping off. I trip and fall multiple times throughout the day, cursing and embarrassed. Passing through thick brush and frozen trees, the snow falls down the back of my shirt each time, a jarring chill that cuts through the sweat. Too many layers. The world becomes a larger place as the trees grow fewer and shorter. The mountain top is in sight. Water is low.
What riches await those who tread where no one dares! Back to the Everest fantasy. Gusts are whipping across the exposed face of Skylight. Temps drop and the jacket goes back on. Six hours of breaking trail for a thirty minute respite. About-face down the mountain to camp, 8 miles away. The car is 4 miles from camp. The closest burger is 25 miles from the car.
Half the fight is in the bag! The long trek to camp begins...
Cover photo credit: Paul Plumeri, Jr.
© James Sisti and Exploring Elsewhere, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to James Sisti and Exploring Elsewhere with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.