You may remember reading in our previous blog about our intrepid adventurer Eve Armstrong from the Dynamic Earth Learning Team, and her planned expedition to the Finnmark Plateau. Well, we are delighted to let you know that on Wednesday the 18th of March 2020 as part of an all-female team, Eve completed a North-South crossing of the Finnmark Plateau in Northern Norway. It took the team of seven women (and one dog!) 13 days to ski the 200-ish kilometres across Europe’s largest high Plateau.
Eve has now made it home to Edinburgh (which was a challenge in itself) and we asked her to write this week’s #WondrousWednesday blog with an update on her amazing achievement:
Skiing dates: 6 March to 18 March 2020
Team names: Sally, Kirsty, Brooke, Maddy, Liv, Igvild and Sirlma the dog.
“Although this was an epic journey and a real challenge to complete, the day to day reality was quite simple: get up, pack up tents and pulks, ski for 6-8hrs, put up tents, eat dinner, sleep, repeat. Although maybe this sounds boring or repetitive there is something glorious in the simplicity of life on an expedition. There is nothing else you need to worry about - the big things become small and the small things become big. Your revel in the joy of finding chocolate buttons in today’s snack pack or getting your sunglasses positioned just right so they block the low sun but don’t fog up. You spend hours of the day just feeling the motion of the skis as they pass across the hard packed snow thinking about the way it gives each time you shift your weight and listening to the rhythmic crunch of your poles. This kind of mindfulness, this being in the moment is something we chase in our busy modern lives but up on the plateau it was easy.
When I wasn’t enjoying the little things or meditating on the move I had the pristine untouched landscape and never ending snow to marvel at. A white flat expanse stretched before you like the surface of the moon, occasionally a hill on the horizon would rise painted blue by distance or the topmost branches of trees would poke from the snow but mostly it was just the white and the blue sky with the sun making it all sparkle. If we were lucky and the temperature dropped low enough we would get diamond dust (where the moisture in the air starts to freeze) and then the air around us would sparkle too.
Of course, that was when the weather was good - when the weather was bad it was a whole different story. When the winds picked up they would bring with them extreme wind chill making it feel up to -25c. In those conditions I would pull my hood low and my buff up over my cheeks in an attempt to avoid getting frostbite on my face. This was mostly successful but I did get frost nip a couple of times where ice crystals started forming under my skin. Sometimes the air temperature was cold all on its own and then the cold would slowly creep through my layers and all the way down into my bones. When it was like this the only way to stay warm was to keep moving - skiing for as long as we could and dancing in in the snack breaks to keep our fingers working (the Macarena is surprising good for keeping your whole body moving and is even possible to do while wearing skis!)
This brings me to the best bit of my expedition - the people. While I was marvelling at the landscape, trying to not get pushed over by my pulk on the downhills (almost always unsuccessfully) or forcing my legs to take just one more step, I shared the experience with six amazing team mates. These strong, capable, astounding women carried the load from my pulk when I was tired, pressed their bare hands to my face when I got frost nip, hugged me when I was down, shared their precious snack supplies and made me cry from laughter every single day. I laughed while I was skiing into total whiteouts, I laughed when we squeezed five of us into a two man cabin, I laughed while dancing myself warm before bed, when I was leaning to pee while squatting on skis, when snow blew into our tent while we slept and even on our final long day to the road when I just could not stop falling over!
This was undoubtedly a difficult and challenging feat of which I am immensely proud of but I gained so much more than just this one achievement. I gained six wonderful friends who are inspirational women, I gained a profound understanding of what my body can do and how strong I really am, I gained an incredible insight into an astoundingly beautiful environment and I gained thighs of steel! But of all the things I learned and experienced on this expedition, the most brilliant was that when you are with a team who work together and truly support each other without judgement, you can achieve anything.”
The team have even managed to make it into the pages of the famed Hello! Magazine - you can read the article celebrating their achievements here!
Thank you to Eve for sharing her awesome adventures with us - we are incredibly proud of you, and look forward to finding out where on Earth your next expedition will be... #WondrousWednesday