Preparation before the expeditions is normally making lists, laying out my gear, keeping my fitness level high. This has all been happening but this trip is a bit different. Tomorrow we leave for our 9 day solo ski trip. A self supported trip where we pull all our gear in sleds and have mapped out a route which we will try to stick to over the 9 days. Each night setting up camp, finding and processing firewood. Its the ultimate test of everything we've leant so far.
I keep going from hugely excited to sitting on the floor with the overwhelming doubt sitting heavily in my stomach. I try to question what it is that scares me, an exercise that we even did in class as part of our preparation for the trip. As with most things it's the unknown that scares me. When I first found about about the International wilderness guide course my heart always beat a bit faster when I read about the 'bear ski' - at the time I wondered 'How the hell do I survive in the wilderness for that long'. That isn't my fear anymore, over the past 8 months I've learnt ways to survive in the wild, I can look after myself no problem, theres always room for improvement of course but this isn't what is weighed heavily in the pit of my stomach on the day before departure.
The question that worries me is 'Can I be alone for that long?' - we live in a world that is more connected than ever. Its rare I go a few hours without talking/messaging or somehow speaking to somebody. When I'm alone I play music 90% of the time to fill void of people and to take my mind away from itself. I'm not a person who seeks time in their own head, don't get me wrong I am quite happy doing things alone but thats different to embracing that silence.
Every element of the trip I have practised, and worked on. Pulling a heavily loaded sled, making fire out of damp wood, sleeping in -28. I've done all that I know I can cope, and deal with it. But I have never spent that length of time disconnected from everything. It does excite me at times, it's such a luxury these day to have the chance to just head into the wilderness and worry about nothing but yourself for 9 days. Then again the prospect of all that time alone, in my own head scares the hell out of me.
I'm intrigued to see how I handle it, I'm taking my iPod and a book for the times when I want to distract myself but I'm going to try my best to stay in the moment, to take everything in and deal with everything as it comes.
When planning the trip I found a very apt quote from the writer of the Moomins, Tove Jansson:
"The very last house stood all by itself under a dark green wall of fir trees, and here the wild country really began. Snufkin walked faster and faster straight into the forrest. Then the door of the last house opened a chink and a very old voice cried: 'Where are you off to?'
'I don't know,' Snufkin replied.
The door shut again and Snufkin entered his forrest, with a hundred miles of silence ahead of him."