Antarctica: To the Ice and Deception Island

 

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One night on the dienties.

I’m not much of a trekker.
I get tired easily and need lots of breaks, I’m not good at carrying heavy things, and I eat a lot of food for someone so little.

Also, having raynauds, a medical condition in which my hands and feet go purple and sting and hurt when they are cold, and taking hours (many hours) to warm up and get feeling back, I’m definitely not a trekker in cold conditions. Its not a life threatening condition (although it could lead to it), but its very painful and unpleasant. You can damage your nerves badly and can take days to recover your hands, and for those of us that have it, its a huge disadvantage in cold weather. Severe cases you lose the function of your hands and feet.

But Julia and Nacho really wanted me to go trekking with them. After three days of hearing them whine and pester me, and Nacho offering to carry ALL my things, and I didn’t have to help set up the tent, or cook, or clean, or get water, or start the fire, I finally caved.

One night only. They would keep going and do another two nights and Ron and I would walk back. We all registered our names with the police and our expected date of return.

First bit was the steep climb to cerro bandera. The view is amazing from the top. Spot the non-trekker in the group.

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Then around the mountain we go.
It was hard for someone who didn’t trek a lot. The ‘marked trail’ disappeared frequently and was on the side of a steep, slippery mountain.

Furthermore the wind blew constantly and pushed me off the mountainside.

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Ron on the “path”.

The trail never seemed to end. Each corner would just lead to another. I wasn’t cold when walking, but very tired, and everytime we stopped to have a break and some food, I’d loose feeling in my hands.

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And then came the climb down the mountain to the lake where we would camp for the night.

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There were big rocks and little rocks. One step and everything would go sliding. To make it worse, myself and Ron had to climb back up this the next morning.
I don’t deny it the beauty of the scenery but I still hated every step of it.

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They set up camp and tried to start a fire. Tried. For three hours. The wind was so strong, blew relentlessly and didn’t give us a single break.
To say I was cold was a huge understatement. I was so miserably frozen with no place to warm up and by that stage had lost the ability to grasp objects with my hands.

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Eventually the fire was started, we ate dinner and drank the wine that Ron had carried and went to sleep.

The next morning we stared the long walk back, while Julia and Nacho kept going.
Surprisingly the walk back was easier even though it was uphill, probably because I was more mentally prepared than the day before.

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Ron and I checked back in at the police station, where they told us they had no record of our names. Strange…

…Julia and Nacho arrived back two nights later. Julia said she would never try and convince me to hike again. I told Nacho I would never hike with him again.

A week after, we were eating Friday night dinner when the police showed up on the doorstep, looking for us.
I guess they finally found our names.

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Captain Man-Child in Puerto Williams…and changing dreams.

Unfortunately when I was given a ride from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams the yacht pulled up alongside Captain Man-Child.

I was glad to see the girls had made it in one piece: apparently they had been very seasick during the trip.

As soon as we had pulled up the Russian girl saw me and started pestering the Captain who had given me a lift with a bombardment of questions about oil, food etc.
I was quite embarrassed.

Furthermore, before me saying anything to anyone else in port, Captain Man-Child already had made a reputation for himself. One of the more experienced Antarctica Captains, (who understood German), took one look at him and decided he was crazy.
He mentioned to me, that Man-Child and his yacht, reminded him of three other yachts that had journeyed to Antarctica during his 15 years of working down there. Two are now on the bottom of the ocean, and the third had to call for help.

We shall see…

But when I arrived here, things had changed. I don’t want to spend all summer looking for another ship. I’m deeply homesick. I want to go home. But I’ve come so far and want closure on this seven year journey.
I don’t want a reason to return to Ushuaia.
I’m taking a paid trip on a yacht to the ice, not cheap for me, and after be going home to Australia to look for work and paying my very understanding and amazing mother back.
I’ll have a true white Christmas, and then I’ll fly home new years and spend summer with my family and friends at home.

Dreams can change. I’m not giving up, I’m not a failure. I’m simply taking another path. Its not the original dream but I am not the same person as the girl who arrived in Ushuaia the first time.
And really, what’s another years work, when its been seven years, and three ships falling through for me, to see the ice?

I am stronger than anyone down here will ever know, returning to a place where my nightmares began, a second and third time, is the bravest thing I’ve done.
At the start, achieving dreams is relatively easy, thanks to beginners luck, where the universe will deliver. And I think, sometimes if its not your dream, things fall into your lap.
But for me, a master dream, starting seven years ago, one that didn’t come easy, turned into a nightmare, into a dark night of the soul, that spanned three years. Seeing the ice will represent the end of this long night, even if my soul sees many days now.

If I had made it to the ice the first time, I never would have discovered Puerto Williams and met all the people there which changed my entire trip to South America.

So you see, the future can influence the past. Because when we understand the present happenings of the future, the past also comes into clarity.

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“Make your dreams longer than your nights” ~ Captain Laurent