Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Yoo 578 - Outward Bound Dogsledding, Day Two

^^ skis and dog sleds and me in my anorak dress ^^

^^ we hoisted those sleds up onto the truck...they weighed A LOT ^^

 ^^ the dog yard! ^^

 ^^ me and some random dog ^^

^^ pushing from the front ^^

 ^^ pushing from the back ^^

 ^^ the other crazies braving the cold with us ^^

 ^^ DOGS ^^
^^ greg and growly bear, his favorite dog ^^

 ^^ sled packed up and ready to go ^^

 ^^ loma and hillbilly rearin' to go ^^

 ^^ just me, posing as a musher ^^

^^ greg, flirting with the team dogs...don't tell roscoe ^^

 ^^ sledding across a frozen lake, battling slush and wind ^^

 ^^ so where do i park this thing? ^^

 ^^ "home" ^^

 ^^ doesn't that just look super warm and cozy? :-P ^^

^^ the kitchen stove ^^

 ^^ basically, my foot wrapped in a large ziploc bag. part of the layering process to supposedly keep the toesies warm ^^

Do you know what it feels like to sleep under a tarp, on top of a frozen lake, with snow and colder than NEGATIVE 20 some degree wind whipping about all night?

Cause I certainly do. 

I also know what it feels like to wake up in that scenario unfortunately aware of a bladder reaching full capacity. And then spending the better part of an hour in increasing discomfort while ignoring advice that promises a body better suited to warm itself upon biting the bullet and appropriately dealing with the situation. I mean, you can't truly appreciate modern conveniences until you're a girl and have had to leave a warm sleeping bag to expose some of your most sensitive parts to minus 20 some degrees. 

Bonus points if you've done it without swearing, too. I was just shy of bonus points...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Day two!

It began in the frigid, unheated cabin. We practiced getting dressed and out of our sleeping bags without losing all the heat that we'd harbored all night. 

I was like, what heat?

Apparently I sleep like a reptile. If I'm not in full sun or a climate with the thermostat set at 76 or above, I'm screwed. So I was doing a lot of planks and advanced sock-retrieval-from-bottom-of-sleeping-bag maneuvers to work my body heat up. 

Breakfast was this Scandinavian dish like a pancake but with loads more butter and some cardamom. Holy delicious. 

Then more gear set-up. Some ski practice. Packing up the dog sleds! And finally, the dogs. 

The dogs are awesome. There were 69 of them in the yard and it was filled with howling and excitement. We loaded 12 up into the trailer and huddled into the van for a quick ride to our starting point. 

Except it wasn't that quick because we got stuck a handful of times.

An hour or so later we'd overcome all the obstacles, had the dogs hooked up to the gang line, and were ready to go. I was manning the chase sled with my fellow student Christa and we patted the tops of our heads, signaling that we were ready.

"Rail! Isabella! Ready dogs, let's go!!"

We didn't even need to tell them because they were already rearing to chase after the lead sled. It was about ten feet later that we crashed for the first time. The second, third, and fourth crashes came shortly thereafter. Dog sledding is hard work! And steering seems to be complicated with two people on the sled. It was a balancing act. One made significantly easier when we switched a few things around and Greg and I ended up on the same sled. Not to brag or anything, but we make a pretty awesome sled team.

Our first experience dog sledding was way north of fun. I was starting to think, "hey, this wasn't such a bad idea!" and really enjoying the day. The trail was pretty tight so we got to do a lot of maneuvering and we rocked the few hills we had to help the dogs up. It was awesome, even despite one of the wheel dogs chewing thru 3 neck lines and his tug line.

Sunset came way too soon and we pulled into camp and began the hard part of our day. Half of the group went in search of logs and the other half got to do the rest of the chores. Greg chopped a hole in the ice for water and I cleared a patch of ice for "wood processing" and also built a snow bench to sit on around the fire. And fed the dogs! A pounding headache and nausea set in to accompany me the remainder of the evening.

But the real highlight of the day, after a dinner of beans and rice, was learning the proper "pooping outside" procedures. This involved announcing our intentions, acquiring the speculated need of toilet paper, hiking 200 feet from the lake, clearing a suitable spot, taking care of business, and then discarding the used paper back at the designated poo fire pit. Also, hand sanitizer and exercises to thaw out your hands post-poo.

Just a bit more complicated than usual.

To put it lightly, everything after the dog sledding portion of the day was on the rougher side of life. I was reeeeeeeally questioning why we hadn't picked an actual vacation and weighing options that might get me out of the next week. Partial-thickness frostbite, anyone? All I wanted was a warm cabin and a wood stove to retire to and all I had was a tarp to sleep under and bone-chilling cold to combat.

I sucked it up though and eventually crawled into my sleeping bags that night with an arsenal of cold-fighting weapons. Namely every layer of clothing I owned from polypropylene to fleece to down and 2 Nalgene bottles filled with boiling water. Also, strategically-placed toe and hand warmers. I was quite comfortable for the first little while but I really had to fight for my heat throughout the night.

Especially after crawling out to pee. Do I ever have to pee in the middle of the night when I'm at home? Of course not. But I did at the most inconvenient time of my life. Surprisingly I WAS warmer after, though it took quite the emotional toll.

One last fun tidbit. Our first night on the trail was my worst night but actually the warmest of the nights we were out. It was a struggle at times but I awoke the next morning without a headache and stoked with a renewed sense of adventure.

Except actually I was thinking "How am I going to survive 4 more nights of that? Why the $#&% did we pay for this??"

Have a great day :-)

1 comment:

Nicole Jessop said...

You guys are crazy! You paid to freeze your butt off?! You couldn't pay me TO do that. You're such a stud muffin. Good thing you married an equally as studly husband to go on these wild adventures with.