From the predictability of this mild, Mediterranean climate of Vancouver Island, we will travel to a meteorological environment of fickle unpredictability - a potential "death zone". Temperatures are known to rise and fall dramatically, in what seems like mere moments.
Exposed skin, accustomed to the soft caress of moist, salt-infused, seaside air will face the dry, biting, tortuous winds that cascade down the precipitous slopes of high alpine ranges and wash, like a tidal wave, into the barren plains of an almost mile-high settlement. Lungs that are used to drawing deep inhalations of oxygen-rich air, will struggle in what will seem to us, a thin and oxygen-deprived troposphere.
This will be a land where, in January, sea kayaks will only be found in the fond and longing memories of paddlers and in tiny, temperature-regulated, chlorinated, indoor "pools". From running with feet that are free and unshod in this verdant island valley, we will need to wear protective and insulated footwear, requisite for the protection of toes and feet in the desperately cold, sub-zero temperatures.
To heighten the drama of this transition from one "world" to another, we will begin the day by launching our sea kayaks in the darkness of the early morning hours to paddle on the Salish Sea. We will then travel to - the "Continent". Upon arrival, and again in darkness, we will attempt to run a ten kilometre route. The forecast is for bleak and unforgiving conditions - falling atmospheric pressure, snow, a "blowing snow warning" and a wind chill of minus 27 degrees. We will conclude this run before the strike of midnight, local time - if we survive the stormy blasts of arctic air and the precarious conditions under our feet.
Will these island-softened, climate-pampered, west coast bodies survive to tell a story? Will they, indeed, face up to this challenge and to this opportunity for "epic" adventure? Or will they, instead, be tempted indoors by the Starbucks "Siren" and her seductive, delicious, and difficult-to-resist promise of a steaming hot and nicely caffeinated soy latte and the satisfying texture of an oat bar? All this, of course, remains to be seen.
|"End state" hint: launch accomplished|
Illustration: Kanji symbol for "adventure" (At least that's what I hope it is).