A couple of days ago, I decided that I’m done talking about my hurt rib and knee. However, I wanted to share one last reflection on my injuries before I leave this topic and move forward. Let me preface this by saying I have close friends and family members who have suffered debilitating injuries and traumatic accidents. Unlike my injuries, which will completely heal, their injuries left them with permanent limitations that will be with them forever. So, to be clear, my situation could be much much worse.
Still, my injuries are my injuries and they significantly affected my mood when they joined me midway through my Patagonian saga. If I’m completely honest, though, my mood was hampered even before the injuries, even before leaving for South America in fact. The intimidation associated with the difficulty of this trip was almost overwhelming to me before I left. Of course, I knew the trip would be physically demanding, but I also I knew I was not in the physical shape required to deal with it. Multiple projects at work and in my personal life left me insufficient time to train for Patagonia in the same way I had trained for other trips in the past. I was over committed, in over my head, and I knew it. Of course, I had the power to control my commitments. I made them and I could change them if I wanted. But dammit I was going to live up to them. I was as determined as a Kardashian. Even so, my mood slowly decayed for several months preceding my trip. By the time I headed south, I was at a point where I had put the ebullient Steve on a shelf and I had replaced him with a bullheaded, sullen version of myself.
Matters worsened due to the injuries. My bruised body affected me in ways I rarely experienced. Every move I made required a plan to minimize pain and the potential for further injury. Each handhold and each step had to be negotiated and planned three moves ahead. It was mentally exhausting at times, but fortunately, I had awesome colleagues to help me. I could not have completed the trip without them and I’ll always be grateful to them! By the time I got home, I was a mess.
Today, the good news is that the fog has lifted from my mind, my body, and my psychology. A clarity has overtaken me and the ebullient Steve is back. I didn’t lose him even though there were times when I forgot about him. And that yields a fresh perspective on my Patagonian adventure. I’ve slowly realized that – cliché alert! – this trip to Patagonia was the trip of a lifetime. OK, “trip of a lifetime” is overused. I hear it all the time. Many people hike and marvel in the beauty of Torres del Paine, the Fitz Roy massive, and the unparalleled Perito Moreno glacier. Fair enough. It is some of the most spectacular landscape on the planet. No doubt about that. However, the Chilean fjords are supremely unique and I now realize that my adventure there will remain near the apex of my lifetime travel experiences. I now realize just how extra special that was. I am a luck guy!
In the movie “Free Solo” Alex Honnold said, “Nothing good happens in the world by being happy and cozy. You know, like, nobody achieves anything great because they’re happy and cozy.” After my trip, I can attest to the rewards of doing something difficult, persevering through the challenges, and then returning to a state of peace and contentment. Even if I temporarily put my physical and mental wellbeing on hold. I’m glad I’m back.
It doesn’t look like it, but here is another image from the Chilean fjords. This stream is one of an infinite number of small inlets that result from ice melt thousands of feet above. The water is pure with a clarity I rarely see. You can drink it straight out of the stream with no purification needed. Nice.