We recently met a rather gregarious man in the parking lot of a nondescript gas station just outside Houston, AK. After warning us of the dangers of grizzly bears and Mexico, he quoted to us that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He asked us where that phrase originated; I hazarded a guess of Confucius. He scoffed at both our educational credentials and our knowledge of history and informed us that it was actually Marco Polo. Now in Trapper Creek, Google tells me that it was actually Laozi, the mystic philosopher of ancient China. Wherever you are, gregarious man with the ice cream and the pickup truck, take note.
This journey of many thousand miles has begun. We’re on the long road to Argentina and
enjoying experiencing all that it offers. Our loaded bicycles weigh over a hundred pounds and we carry every single gulp of water, repair tool, change of clothing, computer, and piece of food that we need to keep going. It is a beautiful, harsh, surprising, and challenging life of transience. We revel in our intimacy with the landscape and the communities we pass through: kind retirees from Texas who share a few camping supplies with us, a man in an RV who stores our bear bags overnight, or another group of continental bicyclists on their way home. Yet every morning is a leavetaking as we must leave to see a new mountain on the horizon.
We are in Trappers Creek staring ahead at miles of austerity. Rain is forecast incessantly and temperatures will fall as we cross the most remote terrain between us and Whitehorse. The anxiety and exhaustion we feel is shot through with boundless hope. At the beginning and the ending of each day, we have one another and a shared vision and the capability to see it come to fruition.
I can’t know what mile 1,000 or 10,000 will be like until I get there. I do know that day two feels right and that there is no place else I would rather be. Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, I hope that you feel the same.