Ever hear a personal story that’s so captivating that you want to share it with others? At Agorapulse, we’ve heard some extraordinary stories from people who live life at a deeper, inspirational level. Ingrid’s story is one of those. Read this final installment of a series.
In this new series, we share the experiences of such people, one narrative at a time. We’ll dig deep into what inspires us about them, how they overcame daunting challenges that threatened to distract them from their focus, and what they’ve learned along their journeys. (Read part one of Ingrid’s story, part two, and part three.)
After moving from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C to Plan D, Ingrid and her companion have a very difficult decision to make. But walking blindly in the snow compels them to make a decision.
“So close to the goal … but we decide to turn around. We’re here to have a good time and not get in danger.”
“In front of the wind and the storm, we have to move forward, turn back to go back to the little cabin (the one that felt bad the seal fat),” Ingrid writes. “I don’t see our tracks anymore. I’m desperately looking for dog prints that will tell us the right direction.
“When I fall into the deep snow, I know I’m no longer on the right track, but getting out of this snow makes me lose a lot of energy. My only landmark is the hardness of the track.”
The weather grows more and more brutal with every step.
“The snow is flying and swirls everywhere. I don’t see anything anymore. It’s the white darkness. The path is going to be long, very long … I don’t know if we’re going to be able to join the cabin, there are hours of walk, and we’re moving hard. The wind is reversing us. If it goes on, we’ll have to dig a hole in the snow and seek shelter within it.”
Si prés du but, la décision fut très difficile à prendre mais on décide de faire demi-tour. On est là pour passer du bon temps et non se mettre en danger. Bien que là c'est chaud patate. Face au vent et à la tempête, il faut avancer, rebrousser chemin pour retourner dans la petite cabane (celle qui sentait mauvais la graisse de phoque). Je ne vois plus nos traces. Je cherche désespérément des empreintes de chiens qui nous indiquerons la bonne direction. Lorsque je tombe dans la neige profonde, je sais que je ne suis plus sur la bonne voie, mais sortir de cette neige me fait perdre beaucoup d'énergie. Mon seul repère est la dureté de la piste, tassé par les traîneaux. J'avance à tatillon. Pas à pas. Notre corde nous sépare de quelques mètres, mais lorsque je me retourne je le vois à peine. La neige s'envole et tourbillonne partout. Je ne vois rien, plus rien. C'est les ténèbres blanches. Le chemin va être long, très long…Je ne sais pas si nous allons pouvoir rejoindre la cabane, il y a des heures de marche, et on avance difficilement. Le vent nous renverse. Si çà continue, Il va falloir creuser un trou dans la neige et s'y abriter…2 heures plus tard, et je remercie encore cette rencontre, nous serons aidés et rapatriés par une personne en moto-neige. Le retour motorisé fut compliqué lui aussi, nous nous sommes égarés et planté dans la neige à plusieurs reprises, mais rentrés à bon port et avec toutes nos extrémités 😉
Posted by Ingrid Ulrich on Monday, May 6, 2019
Somehow, though exhausted beyond words, Ingrid and companion make it back safely.
Lessons Learned on the Expedition
After her latest Greenlandic expedition, Ingrid had some time to reflect on the difficulties that emerged during it.
“This trip was very difficult,” she says. “The weather was more than capricious. Very very cold at first, then a snowstorm slowed my progress. The initial course could not be achieved because of poor ice and storms. Plan A switched to Plan D.
“Twice, I was a few kilometers from my goal, but I had to turn back.”
But what stays with her is the brilliant cold beauty of the landscape.
“The scenic beauty, or rather the vastness of the landscape is just magical. I have few words to describe how I feel when I’m in these environments, far from everything, away from the world and civilization.
“The bay of the village of Oqaatsut, its ice sheet, and its icebergs, its dark colors and its sparkling reflections all add mystery, astonishment, dreaminess.”
Amid all the wilderness, she also had a wonderful meeting with Jeff Mercier and Aurélien Poitrimoult. Jeff plans to try the ascension of a giant iceberg, and Aurélien is filming a documentary on Julien Caquineau and his life in Greenland.
Even amid nature, human connections are important. They help us stay focused on goals, handle with setbacks, find comfort in difficulties, and strengthen spirits to forge ahead.
“The inhabitants of the village are always so warm: Nuka, Steen Gabrielsen, and his family, the children of the village, my little Ulloriaq patiently waiting for the ice floe to disappear to redo stand up paddle and Charlotte Caquineau,” remembers Ingrid.
The cold that Ingrid experienced goes far beyond the cold of more populated places around the world. When she speaks of cold, it is one that bites and clings to a person.
“It pierces clothing,” she says. “The ice freezes in the eyelashes and eyebrows. We must not stop walking The hardest thing is to undress or get out of his sleeping bag to go pee! Everything must be done with big huge gloves and it’s complicated to do everyday things. Like you have to train to open a cake package or close a coat with mittens!”
Extreme cold is also dangerous. During her own expedition, Ingrid met someone on a different expedition. That team had to turn back because one member suffered such severe frostbite that he was at risk of losing his fingers.
Additional Challenges Faced by Ingrid
If you read the introductory blog post for Ingrid, you may remember that, in addition to overcoming domestic abuse, Ingrid also is a cancer fighter.
So, the cold is just one more issue on top of others.
“The cold physically tired me a lot,” Ingrid reflects. “But the hardest for me was to manage the side effects of my treatment against cancer and especially hot flashes. If I sweat too much, I quickly change because cold sweat freezes my clothes.”
Dans les moments difficiles, un regard au bout des skis et hop l'énergie revient. Petit clin d’œil aux copains qui doivent être sur l'eau et à la team GONGSUP. J'arriiiiiiive ! je rentre ! Préparez vos pagaies 😉
Posted by Ingrid Ulrich on Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Despite all those challenges, she still had time to soak in the beauty of the evening.
“The best times of the trip are in the evening when I know that I have advanced! No matter the distance traveled, I approach each day with a purpose.
“My only concern, on an expedition, is to move forward every day a little more to reach its goal, contemplate, eat, and climb its roof every night to protect yourself and sleep. These are the essentials of life.
“I also to be free, forget the worries, and even sometimes the disease (and the operation waiting for me when I get home).
“The official goal has not been reached, but my personal goal has been!” she writes. “The one to realize one of my dreams and especially the one to surpass me a little more in every adventure.”
Special thanks to Ingrid for sharing her adventure with Agorapulse … and, by this blog and social media channels, with you!
If you’d like to read more, check out the other parts of the series.