Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fire and Ice

Marshaling an LC-130 at WAIS Divide

Two recent developments and updates:

The Fire:
Over a week has passed now since my foray into the 118 degree Death Valley.  Now that I've had time to process the race fully, I can honestly say something that I never thought I would:  I would run Badwater again.  The course, despite being asphalt, was absolutely breathtaking.  Putting aside my horrific stomach illness, I found that deep into that first night, high up the climb up to the Darwin Plateau, that I was incredibly satisfied and happy.  With all this said however, there are two obvious obstacles to me every having another go at the race.  First....the cost.  Until I have a more solid job, I simply could not afford it.  Second, there exists one race that I have forever wanted to run.  One race that has captivated me for over 5 years.  One race which I still have yet to participate in.  It just so happens that this one race is almost always the same week as Badwater.  Whatever happens, the Hardrock 100 will trump all other races for me if I am actually accepted into the lottery.  Next year I will finally have a decent chance at getting in under the new "first-timers" lottery....seeing as though I've been wait-listed for three straight years now.  The Hardrock, more than any other running endeavor, is the one event that I will put all others aside for (including a Western States / Grand Slam attempt).

The Ice:
The powers on high have again asked if I would deploy to the WAIS Divide Field Camp in West Antarctica, for what would be my fifth straight season this November.  Because of the WAIS Divide project and my current place in my PhD program, this would truly be my last deployment as a graduate student.  (I know, I know....I've said this before).  Next season at WAIS Divide they will be tearing down the camp, so this is the last full season of science.  Like last year, the deployment team would be absolutely minimal and depending on how various aspects of the project go, I could very well return early from the field (like last season).  I have a few more data sets to gather and experiments to run for my thesis, and then this would wrap up what would be an incredibly journey and 5-year tenure on the icy Antarctic continent.  This year I would not deploy until after Thanksgiving, meaning I will be able to celebrate at home.  Christmas will still be a tough one though.  Looking forward into my uncertain future, there is always a chance I will be working for a company or University after I graduate that involves me continuing to deploy to Antarctica, but there is also a very real possibility that this will be it; my final foray down South.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work and travel to my second home.  When I am down there every year, I certainly miss those back home.  I have found in the past that standing on the remote ice sheet, staring out into the void, for some reason my soul finds a peaceful, calm place.  With that said though, I am ready to live out the last chapter of my icy tome, and close the book for a while.  My soul has finally found a more peaceful calm than I could ever find down there....with those back home.

Measuring an Ice Core

The void....

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