Homecoming

January 25, 2016

By now many of you have read that explorer Henry Worsley has died as a result of his effort to cross Antarctica. I didn’t have the chance to meet Worsley during my expedition – he was already on the ice by the time I reached Punta Arenas to begin my own expedition. What Worsley was attempting was truly epic, and extremely difficult. His plan was to do, solo and unassisted, what British explorer Earnest Shackleton had set out to do in 1914-1916, a traverse of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole. Shackleton’s crew was shipwrecked in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea and spent the better part of the next two years escaping from Antarctica. Shackleton’s “Endurance Expedition” is detailed in many books, the best of which is Endurance, by Alfred Lansing. Shackleton’s story is an almost unbelievable story of courage, of conviction and faith, of resilience, of leadership, and ultimately of endurance. Although I didn’t know Worsley, I’m told by those who did that he was a man fully up to Shackleton’s standards and an absolutely wonderful person as well. His family and his friends are in the prayers of the South Pole Solo team – we are so saddened by the loss of this determined fellow traveler.

I made it home from Chile last Saturday, and my luggage made it a couple of days later . . . Another adventure in itself. I’ve enjoyed being with my family and reintegrating into my professional life as an attorney. (My welcome home to Steamboat consisted of a soak at the Old Town Hot Springs and a family dinner at the Back Door Grill – best burgers in Steamboat!) As you might expect, I love my time “on expedition.” But I also love the work that I do. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to balance these aspects of my life, and for the support of my family and my colleagues that have made it possible. A visit to the doctor and x-rays revealed no fractures in my foot. I was diagnosed with a couple of things I can’t remember the name of, and plantar fasciitis too. For now the treatment is prednisone, possible steroid injections if the prednisone doesn’t work and perhaps Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy if all else fails! And rest, I’m advised, is called for. But, with an adventure racing season coming up, it’s hard to imagine resting too much.

As always it will take some time for all of the various lessons of the expedition to sink in. But some are immediately apparent. Certainly one of the distinguishing aspects of our species, humankind, is our general compulsion to explore the unknown – to choose to venture forth into the wilds of nature despite the difficulties and the dangers involved. It’s part of what makes us the creatures we are. We were made to experience those things which tend toward the eternal, and to experience them in a first-hand way that may seem uncomfortable and risky. But life is always uncomfortable and risky; there’s simply no avoiding it! In grappling with those difficulties, and helping our fellow travelers along the way, that’s where the beauty of life can be found.

In closing this particular expedition, attached is a panoramic photo from an area close to Union Glacier. Antarctica is truly nature at its rawest, fiercest, coldest, windiest, and pick whatever superlatives you like! It’s also as starkly beautiful as it gets, and I think this photo shows that well. I’ll post other photos too so that you can get some sense of the scenery of the place. Thanks to all for following along on this effort. Please send me a note if you have any questions!

Doug