Thursday, March 28, 2013

Every one is great.

Alaskan winter tour, that is.

 I've been home just long enough to have forgotten any perceived hardships from the trail, and have arrived at that wistful post-trip state--even willing to embrace a cliche:

Every one of my Alaskan tours has been great. This one might just have been greater than others.

 Always hard telling on that, though. Is my memory trustable? Can I remain objective over the span of 17 years? Can anyone?

 All good questions. Groping for answers brings this to mind:

  No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” ― Heraclitus 

The first week of the ride seemed too good to be true--then as now. Views didn't present themselves til later, but riding, camping, being conditions were abfab.

 My traveling partners were at least as competent and capable as I, but with the benefit of bigger motors and smaller cameras. Thus this is the view I most often saw.

 Their only apparent weakness seemed to be an incessant compulsion to eat, thus while they fiddled with wrappers and crammed food wholesale into their pieholes, I was sometimes able to not only catch up, but even sneak ahead and fill the frame with their faces.

 Daily there was cause for celebration. The past few multi-week trips I've done have all had this in common: The longer I'm out the better they get. I used to think that was just serendipity--that events were getting better the further into a trip I moved.

Now, I don't know that that's true.  I wonder if it's the being out--for more than a quickie--that causes the betterness?  Maybe it takes 10 days for me to step completely out of my everyday and remember how to embrace the moment and nothing else.


Once I wistfully left the carnival of McGrath behind, it took yet more time to get into character for the largely solo riding to come. Patience and a contemplative attitude serve one best in the Interior, but it's hard to just flip a switch and be that guy.

Humility and gratitude come whether you're ready or not.

 Attempting this route in such an unambitious manner (no hurry, sleeping in cabins when appropriate, picking up food drops every few days) left plenty of time to hear (and witness) fascinating stories from the people I met along the way.

That mode of travel also left time to adapt--ride when it seemed appropriate, sit tight when it wasn't, burn a few hours motionless but for my shutter finger, and (often!) just roll over and sleep a bit more when the mood struck.

 My (aforementioned, questionable) memory tells me that I *loved* racing this route over a decade ago. But when I search for evidence to support that claim I come up empty. With the benefit of much more recent memories to inspect, my 2013 tour of the Iditarod seems difficult to improve upon. 

I have dumptrucks full of pictures to share and stories to tell. Rather than rush straight into them, I'm going to put them on a middling mental shelf and enjoy some spring. I look forward to digging into them, deeply, when fall fades back to winter in a few months.

 Til then...