A few hours out of Buckland things felt like they were really coming together. It was calm, sunny, and in the high-10’s—ideal Nordic skiing temps. My kick-and-glide rhythm felt expert-like compared to when I skied out of Kotzebue 100 miles earlier. For the first time on this trip, my mind began to drift, namely to all the challenges ahead: skiing through the Alaska Range in a few weeks, pushing through the Wrangell’s early-season, doing successive 300-mile stretches between resupplies in northern Yukon and the Brooks Range. And more.
The enormity of the task at hand quickly became overwhelming, pretty much impossible. What ever made me think this trip was feasible?
Because, when reduced to its smallest increment—a kick and glide, a footstep, a paddle stroke—this trip is feasible. The math works out. If I do about 25 miles a day for 6.5 months, I cover about 4,700 miles, including some rest days in there. If I focus on the short-term challenges—the next hill, the next overflow-covered creek crossing, the nose-numbing crosswind—and keep on plugging away at this trip in those small increments, eventually I will make it. And finally then I can stop and appreciate the true enormity of this experience.