The final load out in Memphis has been completed. Tomorrow afternoon, I am off on a plane to Portland, the gateway for some of the team's journey to Mount Adams.
Cube versus mass is conspiring to make it look like I am relocating to the PNW for longer than a long weekend. Two large bags carry a mini Base Camp that constitutes my contributions to our team - Southern Exposure - and all the essentials for this endeavor.
In all of the mountaineering and trekking shows that I have watched as part of this course, I am always amazed by how light people are traveling, a simple pack, maybe trekking poles and hiking shoes . . . then I remember the brief scenes with the Sherpas and Yaks hauling all of the heavy gear for Base Camp. I need a Sherpa . . .
. . . I am my own Sherpa until I meet up with rest of Southern Exposure through remote parking, the shuttle bus, check in, arrival, shuttle bus to rental car, etc. - all of the stages of travel I am regularly accustomed to with a 22" roller and business backpack - refined business traveler elegance in motion and practice.
The manhandling of large bags will be reminiscent of my journeys as an exchange student to Wales and my time in Poland after graduation, where one big bag made sense until you had to lug it through the London underground or immediately on a train from Warsaw to Gdansk. Lifting it in the couchettes was always a feat of strength. A year abroad and then seeing Poland and other Eastern Bloc nations at the end of the Communist era expanded my horizons and perspectives more than I can really say or truly understand. Each was a journey into the unknown, where I basically got on a plane, would be met by strangers, and started to build a life for the duration of my time there.
This trip is a journey into the unknown - first time in Portland or Oregon for that matter; first time camping on a glacier; and first time attempting to summit a mountain. I will meet up not with strangers though, but rather team mates with whom we will share the experiences of the weekend. I have met Jonathan in person at another class in Spokane, and Keyth and Kelly through on-line discussions and conference calls. From this time together with the team and the rest of the class, I believe my horizons and perspectives will again broaden and deepen in ways I have yet to contemplate or realize. As with all travel, I will come back a different person, and hopefully the better for making this journey.