We made it, we’re done, we’re out 🙂
I want to apologise to those of you who have been following the despatches for my perpetual complaining in many of my previous despatches. The truth of the matter is that I have just concluded the greatest experience of my life, and yet it was the very things that I complained about, the hardship and adversity that made it so. I feel so much more fulfilled and accomplished because of those very aspects of the trip.
Memory is a very funny yet kind creature, whenever we look back on experiences we always remember the good and tend to forget the bad, or at least the bad doesn’t exist as prominently in our psyche as the good. The funny thing about this experience is that it was the very things that I complained about that I now cherish and relish and very much miss. We were certainly very far outside our comfort zone but now in retrospect it was exactly that that was absolutely fantastic. I miss my -100 degree space boots, I miss sharing a filthy and stinky tent with my brother, I miss wearing the same clothes for a week, I miss huddling one on top of the other in the tiny dining tent for meals, I miss the pristine whiteness, the spotlessness, the absolute clean, the views, the endless expanses, I miss the colour of the sky that awesome blue on a sunny day, I miss the feeling at the end of everyday when we achieved our set target, I miss the hot cup-a-soups after 20km of skiing, I don’t miss being on my feet for 9 hours a day, I don’t miss the cold!
What is strange is that it is over the course of a life time a person’s definitions of normality are put in place, yet when an experience is extreme enough those boundaries of normality can be re-drawn in a relatively short period of time, in our case sixteen days, and what was once normal became completely alien. When we landed in Punta from Antarctica two things struck me most and were almost alien concepts, one was that for the first time in 16 days I’m not walking on snow, for 16 days the only place we didn’t have snow under our feet while standing up was in the dining tent (we couldn’t stand in our sleeping tents), the second was the fact that it was dark! We arrived at night and it was dark, wow! I couldn’t believe the sensation I felt when I looked at the night sky and it felt weird, different, that was when it really hit me that we really did go to the end of the earth and what’s so surreal is that such a simple concept such as night and day which are corner stones of normal in our world, the whole thing about the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, the light and dark thing, these basic rules of our world had become a foreign concept to me, it was wild!
What an experience! If it hasn’t been mentioned yet, Antarctica is the most beautiful place I have ever been to, the polar plateau is featureless, beautiful nonetheless but that’s not what I’m talking about. The location of the camp at Union Glacier, the sites were awe inspiring, the mountains on three sides, the clearly visible glaciers of blue ice, the whole thing was just magnificent! I also managed to get closer to my father and brother than ever before which within itself is enough to make any trip a grand slam, and finally to go somewhere and experience something that is so profoundly different from what I’m used to was an incredible privilege.
And my final note, I managed to check the website briefly yesterday when I got to Punta and I saw all of your comments and support, whilst we couldn’t read them when we were out there when we communicated with my mother by sat phone she used to tell us about all the kind words of support and encouragement that came from all of you and it really made a difference to everyone on the team. I really can’t thank you all enough. When you are out in the middle of nowhere and you know there is someone out there following your progress and rooting for you it makes a massive difference. So a big thank you to everyone for the incredible show of support.