Nico’s ice bathwas ready on our last afternoon at camp. Michaela snapped pictures as he streaked to the hole. Somehow he persuaded the other men, one by one, to follow his lead. They returned to the cabin pink and swaggering, urging us ladies to give it a try. “Anyone can roll in snow,” Nico announced. “This is special.” It was 22 degrees below zero outside, but I am a sucker for a dare. So I sat in the sauna until I thought my eyeballs would blister. Then, before rationality could set in, I sprinted, naked and steaming, to the hole’s icy ledge, slipping and sliding my way in. The water was surprisingly gentle on the skin, less scratchy than snow. I dunked to my armpits, grinning crazily, desperate to get out, loving that I was in. Back in the sauna, I felt as shining and phosphorescent as the aurora itself. For months my body’s limits had defined me, but not anymore. It wasn’t that I felt invulnerable—those days are gone. But I was resilient. And in the end, isn’t that better?
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