Cabin Fever

Just as the best meal can be spoiled by eating too much of it, the finest place on Earth can feel too tight when you end up spending too much time there. “Cabin fever is a term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group ends up in an isolated or solitary location, or stuck indoors in confined quarters for an extended period. Cabin fever describes the extreme irritability and restlessness a person may feel in these situations.”

In between the Christmas and New Year’s rush hour when crowds endlessly were driven in and out of camp, we had no time to leave. We spent the holidays between strangers once again, while we both actually really longed to go home this year. No time to charge batteries. No time to have good talks with friends and family over the holidays. No time to shower. No time to see anyone but each other. And too many dark hours to think about it all.


But the worst part. The day when we finally could leave, the car key broke. The snow scooter did not start. It was -40 outside. And before we could fix any of it, new people came.

We all know the stories of expeditions getting stuck in desolate places and everyone starts losing it. We did not come as far as wanting to kill each other, at least not this time. However, 18 days without a chance of leaving the premises did seem to be the limit for sanity and a healthy relationship.

It’s funny how situations that have to do with the great outdoors are either marked by clouds of euphoria or by the darkest thoughts our minds can bring up. There seems to be little in between, little grey, there is only the whitest of white and the blackest of black.


So we came to the black. Now I have to be honest and admit that restlessness has never been my strongest quality. Two hours on the beach can seem like a lot to me, let alone waiting for days to get away from here in order to take a shower and feel like a human in the beginning of the new year. I also have to admit that I did not break my no-showering record this time around either, the 2009 21-days-without-a-shower-in-Mongolia still holds strong.

Now that we have been reunited with the world outside, the feeling for the woods turned for the better. January is here, my favourite month up north, with its stunning light, ever-increasing daylight hours and cold but beautiful frosty days. On Wednesday my first ever week tour guests arrive, and in preparation I’ve been out looking for new trails to drive with them. There are some beautiful routes out here that I have not been on with the dogs yet.

That’s one thing. But even better, there’s only a few days left until the first rays of sun will touch our faces again, a feeling we haven’t had since the second of December. The emerging daylight will make our lives infinitely easier, our drives more enjoyable, and not to forget: at some point we’ll be having breakfast on our front porch and bonfires by the lake, basking in the sunlight. So many things to look forward to and I, for one, am excited.


4 thoughts on “Cabin Fever”

  1. Wel wel, verry unexpected story but so human!!!
    Hallo Eef en PJ, onze beste wensen allereerst. Maak er samen opnieuw een memorabel jaar van … Blijf vooreerst gezond lichamelijk én geestelijk , behoud jullie ‘zijn’ ……
    Wat een verhaal, nare ervaring maar zó menselijk.
    Jullie doorgaans bijna bovennatuurlijke wilskracht en doorzetting heeft een knauwtje gekregen …. Ook deze ervaring levert jullie opnieuw een flinke pluim op jullie hoed, misschien zelfs de grootste! Respect!!
    Intussen beiden terug oké en toch opnieuw deugddoende momenten gekend?
    -40, Jezus! Konden jullie überhaupt nog jullie ledematen bewegen? Ik kan me voorstellen dat bij zo’n temperaturen ‘warme gedachten’ snel surrealistische vormen kunnen nemen….
    Eef , PJ heb nog een fijn seizoen met mooie , sterke belevenissen. Dank dat we nog altijd deelgenoot van jullie levens mogen zijn!
    Hou jullie goed,
    Dikke knuffels


  2. It’s like with anything. People take for granted what they have, but a little time way makes you appreciate it. You guys are strong and unique and 18 days in isolation during the holidays is hard and admirable. I can imagine you looking back in awe of that time, yearning to return to it. Nice post! Keep letting us live vicariously through your rough life (because most people couldn’t hack it for ONE day!).


    1. AWW Patrice your comments always make me smile :). Thanks for the kind words, they help when things are feeling a bit rough! Sometimes I wonder why I keep working myself I to these impossible situations… But the rewards are worth it. Take care you two, hope our paths will cross in a not too distant future!


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