I got many liters of liquid water from the truckers, my Icetrekkers, a lot of thumbs up, waves, smiles and “are you ok?” from inside their cabs. In the restaurant, I sat surrounded by friends I already knew….
The truth is that the Dalton Highway is difficult for everyone. Communicating and taking care one another is more than solidarity, it’s survival. Everyone’s already needed, needs or will need help out there and with me it was no different.
Before starting my ride, I’d talked with Claudio, a Brazilian and truck driver that worked many years in Dalton as an escort. He’d spoken of this brotherhood on the road.
For the first time in 5 days I was seeing the ground without ice. Finally I would be able to camp on firm ground and not in the snow! Perhaps I’d even be able to sleep more than 5 hours that night!
Finally camping on ground with no ice! Happy as can be with the sun, a good night’s sleep and a hot shower!
I was really excited with the possibilities!!! What to do first?!
I got organized. Focus. Calm myself… one thing at a time… what was most urgent? First eat and get myself warm while I ate. I ate the hot soup. As I swallowed the liquid I noticed that the colors in the room were more vivid. I felt my face warming up. I took off my gloves and touched my face, I looked at my hands and some fingers were reddened. My fingernails were slightly blue.
I played an imaginary piano on the table a noticed that I wasn’t feeling the tips of my fingers. Darn, will they get back to normal?
I remembered my mother. For her the first part of treating anything began with a bath. If you are upset: take a bath to relax. Headache: take a bath and it’ll get better. Tiredness: take a bath and wake up! Sadness: take a bath and perk up. Cold: take a bath and you’ll warm up!
I heard her voice and I went to take a shower. $10.00!!! Ok, today it’s worth it! It would be my luxury!
When the hot water fell on my head I had a shock. A sense of humanity wrapped itself around me. “By Darwin! This is wonderful!” I said out loud.
Returning from the showers I saw some cabins among the trees. I thought that was cool and I went over to see. Inside each one there were 2 beds, a table and a chair. I noticed the cabins didn’t have locks on them so I pushed on one of the doors, just to take a look… it opened!
Time to charge the batteries. Using a solar charger.
I looked around with the intention of asking about the cabins. It was almost midnight. There were no cars, person or animal nearby. I felt a twinge in my stomach but you know what? I threw my things inside one of the cabins as if I were running away from something.
I quickly closed the door and in silence I threw my sleeping bag and an outer thermal bag cover on one of the beds and very quietly, I slept.
I slept 14 hours straight.
The next day a kind of watchman, very angry, threw me out of the cabin. I smiled while I told him I was sorry, I was so happy that I felt I was overflowing with a kind of hot energy. He said that I couldn’t sleep there because the cabins were still closed. “They’re for the summer folks!!!”
I smiled again, thinking, I almost feels like it’s summer – and I left, happy and rested. I looked at my watch and the temperature was 12ºC (53ºF) It really was almost summer!