How many times did I climb up and down these stairs these past five days of Kivgiq? For readers who do not recognize these stairs, they connect the Barrow High School gymnasium with the indoor track built above to enable runners to work out even when the temperature is far, far, below zero and the wind howls. Other than the track itself, there is no floor on the running level, so the track provides a high view of the gym floor.
The angle is a little too high and a little awkward for most pictures, but still I go up and down these stairs again and again during Kivgiq. There was a time when I would take these stairs two at a time going up and sometimes leap over more coming down. By Kivgiq 2011, I was pretty much limiting myself to one stair at a time, but just the same I ran up and down them many times.
There were several individual dances when I shot a few overview frames from the track, then decided I need to shoot from the floor, so I would run down, shoot, and then, even before the dance was over, decide I needed another high shot and up the stairs I would spring - again and again, throughout the four days of Kivgiq 2011.
Exhaustion is the normal state of being for me, but this year I arrived at Kivgiq in a state of extreme exhaustion - in part for reasons readers who have followed my recent series of posts stretching from Utah to Hawaii to Nuiqsut to here in Barrow can probably surmise; in part for a reason I have not shared on this blog but will tomorrow, if I can find the time and energy to put up a real post.
On the first day of Kivgiq 2013, in my state of exhaustion I found the climbing and descending of these stairs to be a struggle. I did not run up or down. I certainly did not take two at a time going up or leap over more coming down. Even so, I climbed, many times.
Give the schedule of Kivgiq and my determination to be present for every performance, I knew I would not get any real sleep throughout the week of Kivgiq. If the first day of stair climbing and descending was that tough, how the heck would I get through the rest of the week?
On Wednesday, the second day of Kivgiq, despite having had almost no sleep the night before, I was surprised to find the stair climbing a little easier. As each day passed, I grew ever more tired, yet it became easier and easier to climb and descend the stairs.
Yesterday, Saturday, the final day of Kivgiq, I found myself running down the stairs many times and several times I even ran up them. Yet, from the beginning of the day's activities, which for me began a bit before 10:00 AM to the end, which for me came about 3:00 AM, I continually felt as if I was about to drop from exhaustion.
Yet, once again, during those moments when I felt circumstance demanded it, I was running the stairs - slower than in 2011 perhaps, but running still.
Today I slept in late, got up and had an excellent combination omelette at Pepe's and drank two or three cups of coffee. All the day since, I have felt as though I am made of lead. I am stiff. I am sore.
Yet, as tired and exhausted as I was, I loved every minute of Kivgiq. As Savik said, "there was a lot of love on that floor." There was. So much love. It was the drums, the songs, and the love that picked me up in my exhaustion and carried me through.
I have not yet begun to edit my photos. I spent several hours today downloading and backing up, but not one minute editing - other than to go grab this picture.
I hope to make a better post tomorrow that will say a little bit about my personal Kivgiq experience. Beyond that, I won't start editing until sometime next week after I am back in my house in Wasilla. It will then take me a solid month of work, spread out over two or three months, to edit my take. The Kivgiq Uiñiq I will make is scheduled for release July 2 - the 41st anniversary of the North Slope Borough.
On that note, I thank NSB Mayor Charlotte Brower for the opportunity to make this Uiñiq and wish her a speedy recovery.