Before going to bed, a few knee bends, sit-ups or walking around for a bit helps to warm up the sleeping bag and keep you cozy through the night. Rab’s expedition sleeping bags (check them out here) are the best I’ve come across, but as with any sleeping bag, it’s a challenge to not get it wet from sweat or breathing. Slowly, day by day, the moisture builds up and when you’re not in the vicinity of any place (like a hut) to dry your sleeping bag, the nights get colder and colder as you progress into your expedition.
With little room for mistakes, discipline is your best friend in the extreme cold and has saved many a life. Never drop a mitten in the snow, brush off all snow when getting into the tent, keep moving fingers and toes, never leave a zipper open, don’t waste fuel or other resources etc. Though discipline is not always my strongest point in everyday life, I realize its importance when I’m out in the Arctic all too well. There’s no room for winging it and only a professional attitude, sharp mind and experience coming from lots of practice will keep you warm, comfortable and at the very least: alive. Will Rogers said: “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment” It’s the catch 22 we’ll have to deal with, but once you overcome the struggles and find yourself being semi-comfortable in a seemingly hostile environment, it all starts to come to life.
An Angelica sticking out from the snow reminds me of it being used by the Sami as an immune booster. A hole in the snow with some bird cat and wing tracks shows a Ptarmigan’s bed. Crowberries, lingonberries and blueberry leftovers reveal the abundance in summer. Footprints from a fox, then snow disturbance and a few drops of blood show the scene of a hunt. Green dancing lights in the sky tell me everything is possible and even when traveling is highly restricted, nature is there and will always be there. Ready to welcome us, to challenge us and to help us re-connect to our souls. If the Arctic draws your attention: get organized. After all, “life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced” (Søren Kierkegaard).