I looked into the face of Determination. It was sheathed in human form; a sixty-some lawyer from Pennsylvania, to be more precise. In this form, Determination had brought itself down a winter trail almost 1,000 miles long ten times over. Most of those years, on foot, the last on a bike…all years, through some of the hardest conditions Alaskan winters can throw at you. Determination fought against the cold, the wind, the snow, the miles of miles stretched thinly across sleep deprived days and nights. It curbed the pangs of hunger with sugar packed, carb and protein loaded snacks. It ignored the pains of frostbite, snow blindness, blisters and bruised muscles. It kept going, one step at a time, purchasing every foot of progress with the offering of sweat, strain and sheer will. It did not sleep often, and even then, not very much. The hands shook, the eyes blurred, and the journey exacted a steep price. Determination paid that price, ten times over. The trail, difficult and long, the winter, cold and unpredictable, the Alaskan wilderness, vast and indifferent, all stared him in the face. Determination did not blink. I stared into that face, seeing in the eyes the strength and resilience that a human being is capable of. I smiled, touched the cheek, saw him off with a hug, and watched as the bobbing headlight disappeared off into the darkness.
by Joanna Wassillie
White Mountain Alaska