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February 14, 2018: More Adventures on the White Highway

I have been reading a New Yorker article by David Grann entitled “The White Darkness: Alone in Antarctica. It’s about Henry Worsley, a retired British Army Officer and adventurer/expedition leader. His hero was Ernest Shackleton in whose footsteps he literally and figuratively followed. I read Grann’s account of this man’s expeditions while inside our very warm “Forest Service Cabin.” What Worsley did, in the company of others on two expeditions, and on his fateful solo expedition, was super human.

On the first expedition (in 2008), Worsley had two companions, Will Gow and Henry Adams. They retraced Shackelton’s route, walking and pulling sleighs from Shackleton’s hut to the South Pole. In his

Tyra Jonesing off Tinni

second expedition (in 2012) he and a partner, Lou Rudd, followed the trail of Amundsen and raced another party, which took the route of Scott. Worsley and Rudd won the 900 mile race.

Worsley went solo on his third expedition. In this one he attempted a trans-Antarctica crossing, this to coincide with Shackleton’s endurance expedition. If successful, he would have been the first to make this crossing, something that Grann noted “Had never been done before.”

Worsley didn’t make it. He called it good realizing he was overly fatigued. He died shortly thereafter, of complications from peritonitis. A real heartbreaker. All I could think was that inwardly, he knew that his job was done.

I was so blown away by this story that I decided to do a short expedition on the White Highway. It was snowing, so I walked rather than bicycled. I took Tyra and Ryder who a mile into it balked for they saw no sense in slogging through snow.

I should have listened to them. The adventure WAS a slog. A four wheeler had been on the path and I was able to walk some in the ruts. And later, I came across the tracks of a skier. However, walking conditions did not improve until we reached Murphy Road.

I thought quite a bit about the White Highway, and how over time, I have seen it evolve into a multi-use playground. If it were up to me, I would declare it a non-motorized, non-bicycling, non-skate skiing area. The moose and other habitat would be the only creatures allowed in this area. I could put all my energies into this but it would never, ever come to be because we humans put a higher value on recreating than we do on protecting nature.

It was overcast and because of this, and because the trail was nearly non-existent, it was difficult to see where I was and where I was going. I wasn’t ever lost, but at times I did not know where I was. This is why I ended up taking a more roundabout way home. I estimate that horse, dog, and human went ten miles.

I got a bit impatient at times with Tyra, who when on lead kept pestering me for treats and when off lead stopped and turned and faced the direction of home. I finally just let her go off lead and she went home. I found her by the hitching post, eating hay.

I now, in thinking about it, feel foolish for having done this trek because it does not compare to what Worsley and his companions did. I am none the worse for wear, and this further emphasizes this point.

Next: 46. 2/1518: The White Highway: Another Day on the Trail

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