Hours of journey: 10h - Accumulative: 385h45'
Km./Day: 23 - Accumulative: 910,2Km. Remaining to the South Pole: 246Km.
Days of progress: 43 (39 Solo) - Inactive days: 15 (0 Solo) - Total Days: 58
Position: S 87º 54,337' - W 082º 00,815'
I will remember these Christmas days (24-25-26), as the three "turrons" (or nougat candy)... Those ´turrons´ from Alicante that are so hard to break, to chew and to come off your teeth. Yes...in the end they have a good taste and you keep a good memory; but hey! They're so hard to gnaw at!!! It have been the hardest three consecutive days of the traverse.
The terrain hasn't improved much, in fact, very little, and it even got worse due to a constant uphill slope, and sometimes quite steep; and an incredible freezing temperature (-29ºC outside the tent, and I'm sure it has gone below), together with an intense wind in my face that in certain moments got to be unbearable to carry on.
All in all, not many Km. for a 10 hour journey, and physically exhausted for the effort made and the cold. According to my estimations, I was supposed to reach today the Parallel 88, but I'm not there yet. Not much left, but I'm behind schedule to what I calculated.
From all previous information and forecasts I had gathered, the most reliable one was the one that mention about the difficulties at degree 87. I haven't guessed right on other bits of info, but in that case, as it was a bit negative, I nailed it!!... I hope the prediction of great improvement from degree 88 turns out right.
But one has to look at the good side of things, as there are some after this hard three days:
1) Tomorrow (day 27) I will overcome reach degree 88, and that means heading for 89, which will mean to be at the last degree of the earth, the South Pole close at hand.
2) I'm at 2.556 meters high, and the South Pole is at 2.835. So, I've only got left about 300 to ascend in the 250 Km. left.
3) I keep the forecast of 8 remaining journeys, starting tomorrow (day 27). Forces are limited and I will have to push a lot, but I'm optimistic and I do think it has to improve necessarily according the informations I have , and I will be able to make up for the time lap.
4) It's Chocolate Mousse day today...and that helps you to overcome any suffering going. What else could I ever want more down here? It cures everything. I ´m even considering to stick some in my receding hairlines...see if helps growing...
MIND -BODY CONVERSATION:
The truth is that this kind of experiences put the always curious, interesting and sometimes complex relation of body and mind to the test.
Yesterday, during a couple of time where there was no wind and the silence was radical, I intercepted two conversations between my mind and my body. I will try and be as accurate as I can.
The first one was during the march:
- Body: Mind today is Christmas, remember?
- Mind: Yes, body. I've already wished you a Happy Christmas this morning, right? Why are you insisting?
- Body: Being such a special occasion, we could stop after 9h, at least for a day?
- Mind: Well, I don´ if we want to do the Km we have planned to do today, and it is still a long way to the South Pole, and the boss wants to do as much as he can.
- Body: Yes, I know the boss does not want to stop. But we said we would try and to go over the 9h of journey, and after renegotiation the limit in 8hours, it's been several days now we have not gone below the 9h30 or even 10 hours , and I'm starting to feel extremely tired.
- Mind: Come on body, you know that during the evenings you can get well fed and recuperate properly... don't complaint so much.
- Body: What are you talking about? I hardly ever complaint. It's easy to say for you, because you only think; the one that does the big effort is me. It's me who's suffering with pain on my feet, muscles, ligaments and joints, and don't even feel my neck...And it is me who coping with this freezing and miserable cold all day long. You don't mind about one hour more...
- Mind: this is very unfair, body. It's true I do not get physically tired, as this is your business. But my job is also very hard and extenuating: I have to make important decisions constantly. I have to be alert permanently as any mistake can have serious and dangerous consequences, and especially now we are on our own. I have to cope with monotonous hours of march and I have to keep finding interesting subjects to think about and not to get frozen in my own may. And above all, I have to face powerful enemies that are constantly attacking me, like fear, the homesickness, the comfort desire, the negative to the suffering, the anxiety for what's left, and many more that are attacking my with no mercy when I lower my guard. Believe me my friend, this is as hard or even harder that what you have...
- Body: Right, apologies if I have offended you. I just wanted to tell you that's it's taking is toll now, and I'm starting to be at my limits. You always say there is less to go...but in fact, you never tell me exactly how much we have left to the South Pole. Can you tell me exactly how much you calculate we have remaining to the South Pole?
- Mind: About 270Km. If there aren't any stops for bad weather or to rest, I assume we have about 10 days until our final target.
- Body: What? 270Km.? 10 days still? You're insane! I thought that we were almost there. This is way too much. Now it does really hurt everything , even my eyebrows! I do not think I'll be capable to keep up with this pace and suffering for another 10 days. Impossible!!
- Mind: Don't panic, body. It's not that bad. We are on our final phase, but there is still a quite a bit to go. Are you able to carry on at least tomorrow?
- Body: I'll do my best and I'll try to finish it...
- Mind: See? Sorted!. Tomorrow I'll ask you again, and surely you'll answer the same thing. And we'll keep repeating the same question. Don't think about the 10 days, focus on tomorrow's journey...
- Body: Fine, if you insist...but I think you always end up winding me up. I'll do my best but I can't promise anything.
... and the second conversation right before going to sleep, inside my sleeping bag:
- Body: Listen mind, following with what we were talking during today's journey, there's something I don't quite understand...
- Mind: What... what's bothering you now?
- Body: No, I don't want to complain now I would simply like to ask you what do we get out of this extreme effort, when all the credit is for the boss?
- Mind: It's not quite true. We're a team and everybody knows it. And the boss treats us nicely when we do things right.
- Body: The thing is, I'm not sure if it's doing any good to me all these efforts...I sometimes think I should have a much quieter life...
- Mind: Yes, and fatten like a pig, or having health issues, or look like an old man...Look at the positive side man: You're active, you are capable of doing many things, and for a man of your age, you're still pretty strong, and can eat anything. Everything has its good and bad things, but I think you have more things on your side than negative ones. But one thing, you need a lot of training and every now and then some special challenges like this one. But trust me, you are much better of that way. And don't tell me you don't often get any price?... Basically with those meals you like so much.
- Body: You always have an answer, and end up pulling my leg... but even so, what do you get out of that?
- Mind: I sometimes wonder as well about having a quieter and recurrent, but then I give it a second thought and I think I love what we do. It helps me to stay awake and active, to learn about new situation, to give the best out me and to gain a lot of self confidence, and I also have some reward every now and then, especially when the boss allow me to meditate which is what I enjoy most.
- Body: That's positive thinking... when I look at what we got tomorrow I get really worried, and you just seem happy as Larry...I'll have to learn more from you.
- Mind: I do not mean that I see everything perfect in these precise moments; what I know for certain, and I have learned it in most adventures, is that if you leave you thoughts to meet the dark side, both you and I will end up screwed in a place like this, whereas, if we think positively, everything will be fine and both of us will be very proud of when we're done. So let's be cool and positive about it, and off to bed for Christ sake. Good night.
-Body: Good night then... See you tomorrow.
-Body: Mind, are you asleep?
-Mind: Almost...what the hell do you want now?
-Body: If I want to have a wee tonight will you allow me to wake up and do it in the bottle, right?
-Mind: Of course I will... But if you have a number 2, then forget it. We do number 2 tomorrow at 8h in the morning, just before getting ready, understood?
-Body: OK Boss... night
I DEDICATE THE JOURNEY TO:
To the FITNESS VIC gym, the FISIOSPORT centre in Vic, to Jaume Campderrós, and the CONSULTORI BAYÈS from Vic. Because I get all the training, recuperation, repairs, checks and if needed medical treatment from them!!
Thanks to all of you, because a great deal of my success is yours as I can push my body and so far is going ok!