I’m not going to lie. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from summer. Sure I remember the day it got so cold that the pipes burst in my elementary school – canceling classes for two days, getting my first pair of cross country skis and even sleeping out in a snow cave at 40 below zero, but those are fleeting snapshots. Not nearly as substantial as the long and drawn out scenes from the summers of my youth.
As a kid, I loved summer. Waking up each morning, I felt there was unlimited possibility and adventure. I have more than one story of the ‘one that got away’ when fishing on the creek behind my house. As I got older, my bike was primary means of escape, and with map in hand, I rode nearly every back road within a 50-mile radius of my house. In high school, I participated in several canoe trips in northern Minnesota and Canada. I remember being half way through a two-week trip and thinking, ‘I still get to be out here for one more week’. There is no doubt in my mind that each one of those experiences laid a critical stone in foundation for my career as a professional ‘explorer’.
Despite having accomplished far more formidable goals since that time, my friend and I still talk about the those experiences. Despite all the adventures and misadventures, one thing that still surprises us is what we were able to accomplish despite our equipment and gear. My rain coat was more like a sponge, our tents leaked and we carried way too much of everything. Funny enough, we even took milk jugs for our water. Even then we knew that the big metal canteens (pretty much all that was available) were too heavy and bulky to be effective on long trips. Not surprisingly, had Vapur Anti-Bottles been available then, we would have cashed in our piggy banks to snatch up several.
As an adult, I spend an inordinate amount of time in cold places. In Antarctica or the Arctic, I live without nearly every physical amenity and comfort. Most days, I try not to think about what I’m missing out on. Still when things get really low, I remember those warm days of summer from my youth fondly and I am immediately warmed.
It has been a busy couple of months at EL Explore world headquarters (otherwise known as my basement). Polar Expedition travel is hardly the glamour stoked arena of nearly every other sport in the world (not that I’m complaining of course). Planning and preparing for these adventures takes months of preparation, training and fundraising. Next spring, I’ll be making an unsupported speed record attempt on the North Pole – easily the hardest expedition on the planet.
I’m also launching a year-long project called Explore the Extremes. Traveling to the some of the world’s most ‘extreme’ environments, we’ll also be tying in the adventure with a series of leadership initiatives. To launch this program, we’re releasing the first of a seven book series at Outdoor Retailer next week in the Vapur booth. If you’re at the show stop by for a book and Vapur Anti-Bottle on Wednesday, July 31st from 1-3 pm.
I spent a few nights out in the Wenimuche Wilderness last week. Located in one of the most remote counties in the U.S., it is also one of the largest wilderness areas in the U.S. We hiked awestruck by the stunning peaks and views. In the evening, we relaxed on warm rocks and watched a nearly full moon rise over a nearby ridge.
Soon, I will be on my way to the North Pole struggling through the pack ice and open leads of the Arctic Ocean and my small Wenimuche campsite will be another memory keeping me warm on a cold day.