“A hundred years ago, when Robert Falcon Scott set out for Antarctica on his Terra Nova expedition, his two primary goals were scientific discovery and reaching the geographic South Pole. Arguably, though, Scott was really chasing what contemporary observers call a sufferfest. He set himself up for trouble: Scott brought Manchurian and Siberian ponies that quickly fell through the snow and ice; he planned, in part, for his crew to “man-haul,” meaning that the men would pull sleds full of gear, instead of relying on dogs. Even when Scott’s men faltered, they continued collecting specimens, including rocks. The expedition ended terribly; everybody who made the push to the pole died. Miserable, starving and frostbitten, one of Scott’s last four men killed himself by walking into a blizzard without even bothering to put on his boots.”
“But then there’s Sarah Marquis, who perhaps should be seen as an explorer like Scott, born in the wrong age. She is 42 and Swiss, and has spent three of the past four years walking about 10,000 miles by herself, from Siberia through the Gobi Desert, China, Laos and Thailand, then taking a cargo boat to Brisbane, Australia, and walking across that continent. Along the way, like Scott, she has starved, she has frozen, she has (wo)man-hauled. She has pushed herself at great physical cost to places she wanted to love but ended up feeling, as Scott wrote of the South Pole in his journal: “Great God! This is an awful place.” Despite planning a ludicrous trip, and dying on it, Scott became beloved and, somewhat improbably, hugely respected. Marquis, meanwhile, can be confounding. “You tell people what you’re doing, and they say, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” Marquis told me. “It’s never: ‘Cool project, Sarah! Go for it.’ ” Perhaps this is because the territory Marquis explores is really internal — the nature of fear, the limits of stamina and self-reliance and the meaning of traveling in nature as a female human animal, alone.”
This story is incredible.
Her senses sharpened to the point that she could smell shampoo on a tourist’s hair from a mile away. “One day you walk 12 hours, and you don’t feel pain,” Marquis said. The past and present telescope down to an all-consuming now. “There is no before or after. The intellect doesn’t drive you anymore. It doesn’t exist anymore. You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing.”
My dad got tickets to Letterman. This is proof that procrastination doesn’t always fuck things up. We’d talked about going down to New York to see the show for a long time; and in the past few years - since Leno announced his (second) retirement, and therefore assuming that Dave’s would shortly follow - we spoke even more often of finally getting to it, before it was too late. Nothing came of it. Nothing till the day Dave announced his retirement, whereupon my dad made it his mission to get down there to see the show; and 2 months later, we got the call.Read more
There is a teahouse on the southern peak of Mt. Huashan in China, 7,087 feet in the sky. The expedition to get there is tumultuous, perilous, and difficult — and now I want to do it.
I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins.
ICYMI - it’s your Saturday content recap! Cuz that was COOL, guys.
Column: Marvel’s Dark World, regarding Thor, SHIELD, and “good enough” filmmaking
Podcast: kind of the same thing, in audio form
Watched: The long version of The Hobbit! My new favourite thing!
All this and more can be found at tederick.com!
I took 4,000 photos on my iPhone in New Zealand in March. This enormous Flickr photoset represents about 10% of them. Everyone thank me for being so judicious with the editing. The story of New Zealand in picture form is all laid out here…
New Zealand at 15fps - Stealing a trick from Dave, here are all my photos from our trip to New Zealand in March, in about four and a half minutes.
The evacuation of New York proceeded apace. I was in the city for something like a total of 42 hours, give or take. Some of it - not a lot of it - was spent sleeping. The promised thunderstorms never arrived, at least not in New York proper, although at the moment I turned the keys of the cube truck to start the 11.2 hour drive to Tweed, ON, the windshield first became speckled by rain.
The biggest shock of the whole thing was Adam, who hasn’t looked that good since before he discovered Guns n’ Roses. He’s living in Brooklyn, working in Brooklyn, and already seems like he’s been there for ten years. Sometimes you just find a place, and were from there all along.
I flew Porter for the first time, and read A General Theory of Love in Billy Bishop while waiting for Toronto’s thunderstorm to pass - I guess prop planes don’t do well in those - and after landing in Newark took the train in to Penn Station and got hit with All The New York All At Once. Which was good; it got that whole thing out of the way, and left most of Saturday for things less obvious. Though I never did get up the Empire State Building, which really should have been first order of business now that I think about it.