Friday, February 22, 2008

Nothing left to do...

...except to go, and do.

Loose ends are tied up, hatches are battened, bike and gear have arrived safely (?) in ANC, I'll be in the air in a few hours and, hopefully, moving forward along The Trail on Monday AM.

Sick of talking about, answering questions, or speculating on how it'll go. Time to act.

I'll be carrying a beacon that should, in theory, send out a 'beep' every ~10 minutes when I'm outside of the tent and moving. Scott Morris will be monitoring that beep throughout the trip and will be posting a daily update (right here) of the progress that I've made. There will be no communication between us other than the beeps that he may or may not even receive. I write it that way because if you look at the coverage map you can see that the beacon will most likely stop being 'seen' by the satellites around about Kaltag. Potentially sooner.

For me, when out there, that's fine. The 'crux' of this trail from a remoteness perspective is the Interior from Takotna to Ruby. Once on the Yukon at Ruby there is regular (and, relative to what came before) often heavy traffic between villages. The rivers and lakes and portages that The Trail follows are the everyday highways for those living in NW AK. Point simply being that once I hit the Yukon the need for the beacon will decrease just as it's functionality takes a nosedive. At least that's what I'm expecting. There is some very small possibility that one or two 'beeps' will get through to Scott daily even as I traverse the coast--just enough to let him know that I'm still moving.

Scott has some GPS info about the route, an idea of what to expect for timing, and links to weather stations along the way. Scott is the creator of Topofusion, an impressive and useful piece of software that I've come to depend on when planning any trip. Updating my progress daily will give Scott the opportunity to showcase what TF can do. Atop all of that, Scott is a pro-level geek (<-his word) when it comes to maps, GPS, and tracking down info on the net, so I'll be amazed if what he posts here daily is anything other than mesmerizing.

There will be LOTS of on-trail coverage of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, which starts about 24 hours before I do. There are nearly 50 athletes competing in that event this year, and we'll all be following the same trail with the same end-goal in mind. I can really only guess, but I suspect that my progress will likely mirror that of the back-of-the-pack racers in that event. Only you will know for sure as it happens--by following Scott's updates here and also checking in on the many websites covering the race. If you happen to notice or find any mention of my progress on the race websites (not likely, but quite possible), PLEASE send that info to Scott so that he can update here.

Lastly, the reason for the beacon, the updates, and Scott's work is to keep those who might worry about or miss me somewhat assured that all is well. I find myself in a strange headspace today--guilty for leaving them to pursue such a selfish, hedonistic endeavor.
I just have to accept that the best part of going on any trip is getting to come home again.

Amundsen wrote that "Victory awaits him who has everything in order -- luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck."

I don't believe that I could be any more prepared than I am, but still--I'll take all the luck I can get.

See y'all real soon.

MC