Monday, January 6, 2014

Yoo 577 - Outward Bound Dogsledding, Day One

So. The winter vacation we chose this year was an Outward Bound Dog Sledding and Cross Country Skiing expedition near Ely, MN. I was all over the globe again in my brainstorming process that started way back in January, and sometime around September we both got really excited at the prospect of going dog sledding. Outward Bound seemed to give us the most bang for our buck plus, I've always wanted to do an Outward Bound course. We applied and it was set.

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. Which is my favorite way to go...

Day one began early in the afternoon at the Duluth, MN airport. Except we had to drive there so actually it began at midnight when our dog gave us the saddest face and we left him for the 10-hour drive. I hate leaving my dog!

The only real mentionable part of the drive happened sometime around 3:30 am when I was super caffeinated and in between Council Bluffs, IA and Des Moines, IA. There were hundreds of red lights blinking all around me in sync! It was the weirdest. Took me the better part of 20 minutes to figure out they were wind turbines. I thought I was about to be abducted.

We got to Duluth with several hours to spare so we checked out some of the "hot tourist spots". Namely Lake Superior and the Aerial Lift Bridge. There was a big barge. And everything looked frigid. Little did I know it would be one of the balmier mornings I would be experiencing for a while...

Moving on.

Everyone met at the airport where we got assigned to the "pink" group and loaded into a 15 passenger van for transport to the Outward Bound base. I took a 5-minute nap but it felt like 5 hours and the whole drive felt like it would never end.

When we arrived we were immediately introduced to our instructors for the week, Gratia and Brewster, and found our spots marked on the floor in duct tape. It felt a little like kindergarten and also I was starving and very ready for dinner. Instead we began what is known as the "duffle shuffle". Basically you pull everything out of your suitcase and start packing exactly what you'll need on the trip. You'll be pooping outside with these strangers in less than a day so the walls come down fast. Underwears and sports bras sprawled about? Yes.

We learned a bit about cold injuries and something super fun called chillblains. Yay! I was light years past starving at this point. But there were more things to go over. I don't remember what now but a lot of instructions were being passed around. I was trying to sneak almonds that I had packed in my purse.

Eventually we got chicken and wild rice soup!

Also, at some point I changed into the clothes that I would be wearing for the next 6 days. I didn't realize then that I would be wearing them for the next 6 days though. Ignorance is bliss.

The best part of the evening was when us girls were formally introduced to our "pee rag". It was a handkerchief cut in half that would need to be stored in a pants pocket to keep from freezing and remain useful for the duration of the expedition.

Oh to the joy.

Greg didn't have to use a pee rag. Boys are spoiled...

The evening ended with a stumble thru snow, loaded down with all our gear, to an UNHEATED cabin where we would practice getting into and staying warm in a sleeping bag. Don't roll your eyes. Both take some skill in sub-zero temperatures.

It was shortly after I got settled in that I started feeling the heat being slowly and steadily sucked from my body and thought "I have made a big mistake."

Have a great day :-)

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