Dim grey light filtered through the un-boarded window. Flecks of recently disturbed dust hung illuminated in the air like snowflakes floating under a lone street lamp. The rain tapped out a repetitive rhythm on the cabin’s metal roof. It was relentless. Four weary and disheveled men sat around a large cluttered table covered with the knick knacks of the cabin’s previous inhabitants and the remnants of their own recently consumed meal. Just over a week’s worth of hard work was etched in their weather beaten faces. A fire crackled in a wood stove bringing warmth to the men’s bone chilling day. Rain jackets, dry suits, wool socks, base layers and gloves filled the air space around the stove. Drip. Drip. Water droplets fell to the cabin’s thread bare carpet.
Some of the men were lost in thought, staring contemplatively into the beam of light which burned its presence into the center of the table. Others were bantering back in forth, breaking the somber mood of their surroundings. Whether conversing in their minds or among each other, each man was justifying the decision. The decision to end their journey prematurely. These men were not used to making such choices. In the group were some of the world’s most accomplished at suffering. Familiar and experienced at willing themselves forward through adversity. A legendary pioneer of Alaska exploration. A 24-hour mountain bike race Hall of Famer. A continual finisher and record setter of perhaps the most grueling of all bike events, the Iditabike. An endurance Phenom who’s easy and unassuming nature, takes on any challenge and makes it look attainable.
The decision was the correct one. The conditions had determined their fate. The route would not go without the added safety margin of good weather. For these men, a little rain, wind, and cool temperatures, were not justifiable reasons for ending. They had endured far worse in their adventure lives. What they had been undertaking for the past eight days, however, was not of the ordinary. To bike and pack raft from the small Alaskan fishing village of Cordova to the remote settlement of Yakutat isn’t something that is taken on with regularity.
As they sat there, pondering their decision, the strength of their collective selves was evident in their restraint. In recognition of risk vs reward, safety vs adventure, they illuminated an elemental characteristic of adventurers that is often overlooked, the ability to call it. Their awareness of futility, skillfully guided them to embrace the shadow of disappointment. Their team decision was an unanimous one: to accept the fate that Mother Nature had presented to them and return safely home to their loved ones.
How often is man portrayed as in opposition to his environment? Against the wild. Braving the elements. Conquering the unknown. Sitting somberly in an old run down cabin waiting out a storm, made them appreciate the power of nature and the gratitude of choice. Sometimes the greatest strength isn’t in forging onward but listening to the sounds of nature and adapting to its call.