April 20, 2012
After eaking out a day of cragging, on rock just dry enough, I turned my attention to packing for IMG’s expedition to Mt. Bona. The weather in the Cascades has been shifty this week, lamb-like then lion, reminding me to prepare for a wide span of conditions in the larger mountain range of the Wrangell-St. Elias. From the pile of gear on the basement floor, I sifted out puffy jackets, overboots, high calorie toe warming snacks and, then, sunscreen, a zinc stick and the most paper-thin UV resisting shell I could find. As I wrangled my -20 degree F sleeping bag into a tight compression sack, the rising cry of a fire truck siren met my ear from a distant arterial street. I wondered what the emergency could be- something serious or just a minor accident? I worried about whether the traffic was bad on the interstate, I needed to do some errands. My phone buzzed on the counter with an incoming text, I should look at it, the phone won’t stop buzzing until I do. The irritating, “beep, beep, beep” of a service truck in reverse banged at my head. I checked the text and noticed another new email, something else demanding my time and attention, and there were so many other emails I needed to attend to… And then, I thought, “I cannot wait to get to the mountain.”
Our lives are easily overrun by the machinations of modern society, leaving us harried and distracted. I have found that I easily “brown out” when too many devices and demands simultaneously require attention, when the flow of life paces at 80 miles an hour on the interstate, when the cacophony of the urban matrix reaches its crescendo. Wild places offer us solace in large part because they allow us to slow down and attend to a distilled set of basic needs. And, Alaska, with its abundant wildness, offers ample opportunity for such reprieve. For this reason, my mind settles peacefully at the thought of Mt. Bona. It’s just going to be us, our packs and sleds, and the embrace of enormous mountains. We’ll spend our time marveling at the beauty, exercising our bodies, establishing camps, moving up the glacier, feeding ourselves, sleeping plenty and enjoying the camaraderie of the only seven people around.