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(January 13, 2013)

Cycle South ExpeditionCurrent Position
Position Date: 2013-01-13 05:35:05
Position Lat: 40.0333
Position Long: -105.4167

Caught in the act of self timer photography in Antarctica during Cycle South.Flying over the Rocky Mountains from Salt Lake City (cheap flights are never direct), the pilot announced that we would be landing in Denver in roughly 30 minutes. I opened up the shade and looked out across the snowy peaks and valleys. The sky was clear and it seemed like I could see all the way to Fort Collins. Boulder, I recognized immediately - the north-south line of the flat irons rising distinctively from flat ground. Tracing highway 93 back south, I found Clear Creak Canyon and it's namesake river snaking upwards and continuing farther west, the arcing 'U' of South and North Araphoe made me smile. How many times had hiked up and down those two? Image: Caught in the act of self timer photography in Antarctica during Cycle South.

It feels a bit weird flying half way across the planet in two days after traveling at two or three miles per hour in Antarctica for so long. The world is so incredibly big, but we really don't appreciate it until we are forced to move at human speeds and in direct contact with the elements. I like traveling by my own power and being able to stop and go at a moments notice. Here is an interesting piece of snow. There is a perfect spot to pitch camp. At 30,000 feet, I am left to wonder about the steepness of a particular slope, the integrity of lake ice near the shore or the briskness of the wind.

Maria picked me up and for the first time in nearly a month I was able to relax and let someone else be in charge of my navigation. Merritt was also along for the ride too - although I suspect he didn't have any choice in the matter. At the ripe old age of 14 weeks, he has gotten bigger and much more precocious. His easy smile (which I say melts the hearts of newborn baby girls across the planet) is bigger than when I left and there is a giggle now too. For the first time in my life, I've come home to my own family and it is amazing.

It's taken me a little practice to call Colorado home. I first moved out in the summer of 1994 when I was guiding white water trips on western slope rivers. I returned again after my first dog sledding season in '95 but then settled relatively permanently in Minnesota. For over nearly 10 years, I lived in a town on the shore of Lake Superior called Grand Marais - to this day one of my favorite places in the entire world and the first place in my life that I truly felt at home - besides a tent that is. I said I was just coming out for the summer a few years ago, but slowly this place is starting to feel like mine.

I like the idea of having a home. For me, it's like a good base camp. When I was on Everest, base camp, meant a clean(er) pair of underwear, a warm meal (and a break from Clif Bars), maybe a chair or two, and equally important, a short break from the mental stress and physical strain of climbing. Honestly, sometimes I think its even just the idea of home that keeps me going - knowing that I have somewhere to go at the end of it all.

I've always said that we look at life through the filter of our experiences, but not only in the philosophical way, but the physical as well. Driving back to Boulder, I couldn't help but think about my life just a week earlier. When I opened my tent door in Antarctica I would look out at this immense expanse of snow that stretched, uninterrupted to the horizon in every direction. On the freeway, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the feel of my bike bouncing over snow drifts and a cold wind cutting across my face.

People always ask me about what it's like coming home after a big expedition. Honestly? Coming home is easy. Living this life with computers, cars, beds, blankets, refrigerators and jeans - that's what we're used to. Turning on the faucet is second nature. Walking up stairs. Waiting at a stoplight. I have done these things millions of times. The hard part of coming home isn't adjusting to normal life, rather it's adjusting to the fact that I am no longer in Antarctica.
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