“Negative twenty degrees!” Sean grins as he reads the inside temperature from cabin thermometer aloud.
I sigh, willing the oil drip stove to work it’s magic (faster!).
Ten minutes pass as we focus solely on the mechanics of the stove, lighter, fuel, flame.
Sean: “Only -6 degrees!”
I allow a smile to cross my lips as the frost stops accumulating on my neck gaiter. I know the warmth is on its way.
Another 20 minutes and we’re above zero… hallelujah! I sigh again with relief, and peel off a layer before starting the long process of unpacking.
Getting back to the Arctic after a few days spent in town is interesting. Getting back to the Arctic for the first time in over a month? I’ll call it “an adjustment.” After tending to business in the lower 48, and getting used to plug-and-play life on the grid, I knew I was in for an awakening, returning home up north when Sean came to pick me up from quarantine.
I’ve learned over the years... whether I’m a month on the road, or one day on the road, it doesn’t matter how efficient I feel, or how many pro-tips I remember before making the long journey up the Haul Road. I’ve come to know that something WILL break and I WILL receive a swift kick in the rear end, compliments of Mother Nature.
This is a promise.
On this week’s butt-kicking menu was a typical sunny, gorgeous winter day with the standard subzero temps — the kind where you can’t have your fingers out for more than a minute, and your eyelashes develop a white, frosty mascara. You need at least three layers on bottom and four on top. Anything plastic must be handled with extreme care or it breaks like a tiny twig. Daytime temps typically range from -20 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit at latitude 67 during the winter. When we hit -10, it feels like a heat wave! That polar vortex that slammed the rest of the country and Texas? Yeah, just a little gift that originated right here in the Arctic
So after a long night of hauling, warming, arranging the dogs and feeding them so they can crawl in their straw-filled dog boxes, followed by a 10pm dinner for Sean and I... I fell into bed, which was still hard as a rock— downside of me insisting we have memory foam mattresses! Regardless, I had no problem drifting to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I looked outside and remembered why I love this life. Why I put myself through the hassle of being our own utility company to live in the wild.
I do it specifically for that reason. When I disconnect from life’s utilities, I can reconnect with the moment. The mountains. And myself, without all the noise. And that reconnection happens all day long... the wild surrounds us 24/7... we have the privilege of spending each moment in sync with Mother Nature. And for Sean and I, that’s what’s required to live our best life.