Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yoo 579 - Outward Bound Dogsledding, Day Three

^^ view from my "restroom" ^^

^^ spider? spyder? getting warmed up. ^^

^^ just waiting to run ^^

^^ the snow bench! it deserves more justice than this photo gives... ^^

^^ greg on skis for the first time in his life ^^

^^ skiers, blazing the trail for the dogs ^^

^^ my frozen face ^^

^^ skillet! my favorite dog. she was crazy and i loved it. ^^

^^ icy muzzles ^^

^^ this was on purpose. it's the easiest, most reliable form of braking. ^^

^^ that was our drinking water from the lake. doesn't it look like the pee of someone with a kidney malfunction? ^^

^^ vladimir! my sledding buddy for the day. he was too cool. ^^

^^ he's studying to be a civil engineer and he said so many things that reminded me of my dad...oh man ^^

^^ more frozen face. the icicled eyelashes were getting really annoying so i'd try to melt them with my gloved fingers but i mostly just got impatient and pulled them off. i lost a lot of eyelashes... ^^

^^ slushy footprint ^^

Is there really going to be a post for every day of this expedition? Probably.

The third morning came with a frozen sleeping bag. Nylon/polyester/whatever it was made of can be remarkably cold and it took several minutes to stuff it back in my pack without freezing my fingers. This was accomplished by alternating ten seconds of stuffing with two minutes of warming my hands down my pants. I actually spent a lot of time with my hands down my pants throughout the week.

Don't go the wrong way with that. You have only a few options when your hands go from feeling like knives are tickling your nerves to feeling nothing at all. It's a short window to frostbite at that point and the easiest/fastest warming solution is skin-to-skin contact. With three jackets and two balaclavas on, down the pants was just the most accessible...

We went thru all the morning tear-down-camp chores and ate a breakfast packed with calories. There are a few perks of winter camping, and the number of calories you have to consume is definitely one of them. Along with no bugs and no snakes. Though remember that scene from Wild America where the supposedly frozen rattlesnake suddenly springs up out of nowhere? At least I think it's Wild America. Anyways, it tortured my mind on occasion. That would be so tragic.

Speaking of tragic, I just got distracted trying to figure out which movie that scene came from and ended up on a page advertising the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, TX. It's an event with thousands of rattlesnakes. NOPE.

But back to business.

Greg was a skier and I was a musher on day three. Except Greg decided skiing wasn't for him and opted to snowshoe after about an hour. So the skiers set out a while before the dog sleds to give them time to blaze the trail. It normally works really well but it was so darn cold and the snow was really tough to get thru so we caught up to them in a matter of minutes. The hard part was staying warm while we waited for them to get ahead again. We'd be stopped for almost an hour at times and it just got exhausting!

Pushups against the sled, knees-to-elbows jumps, running up and down the trail, jumping jacks, lunges, you name it. I just wanted to stop and soak in the beauty of the area but I'd freeze after a minute or two. Again, the dog sledding was a blast but everything in between was tough.

The really fun part of the day was getting the sled across the slushiest lake we encountered. Sometimes there's this really fun layer of slush that develops in between two layers of ice on a lake and it killed me every time. You know how when you're cold you're at least glad that you're not wet AND cold? Well, being on top of a "frozen" lake opens your imagination to all kinds of possibilities. This is magnified when you step and your step breaks the ice into a super slush layer and, eventually and thankfully, another thick layer of ice. But not before your heart skips a beat and you start to panic.

At least that's what it was like for me. I almost got used to it by the end of the week.

We rolled into camp late that afternoon to a superbly pleasant surprise: we had a wall tent and a stove. They'd kept it hidden the first night. HALLELUJAH. Do you know what a wall tent and stove means? It means heat. After felling two trees and lugging them 200 yards thru the snow, I was granted access for the evening.

It was SO NICE to be able to just sit and be warm. Plus we were eating this shepard's pie with probably at least 5 pounds of cheese on it. I love being warm. And eating pounds of cheese.

When the conversations died off after several hours, we were kicked back out into the cold to ready our sleeping bags. But not before we'd convinced our instructors to let us sleep in the wall tent instead of under a tarp again. We couldn't keep the stove in the tent because of all these dumb safety risks and also we wouldn't all fit, but despite this it still seemed like a warmer place to be.

So the cold attacked me for about 10 minutes while I struggled to gather my sleeping bags and work up some body heat before we were allowed back inside.

It got down into the negative 30s but I only remember waking up cold a few times. Each night seemed to get better and I like to pretend that my body was acclimatizing, though I did stuff my sleeping bag with an extra bottle of hot water and we were sleeping in a tent...

Have a great day :-)

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