Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yoo 581 - Outward Bound Dog Sledding, Day Five

^^ peeking thru the morning sleeping bag frost ^^

^^ my breathing hole, except bigger. i slept with a headband across my nose so it wouldn't freeze when i had to breathe at night. breathing is such an inconvenience. ^^

^^ it's greg ^^

^^ there it is, my shelter. i managed to put a smile on for the camera. ^^

^^ fire! ^^

^^ our camp on the lake, as seen by me on my many treks across the lake to warm up ^^

^^ surprise lanterns! ^^

^^ trying to get one to light ^^

Day five dawned in the negative forties. Our instructors forced us to stay in our sleeping bags until it warmed up to at least the negative thirties. Cause, you know, I was really clamoring to get out of my warm, cozy sleeping bag...

Ok, I actually had a hard time lying in my sleeping bag for so long. I did situps and planks and stuff to give my backside a rest. The best part was when Brewster poked his head in the tent carrying a frying pan of sausages. Breakfast in bed!

So we did get wined and dined a little...

Eventually we were given the green light to arise and had bagels fried in sausage grease and butter to consume. It was better than a donut. I think this was also the morning I mixed grape nuts with instant mashed potatoes and it blew my mind. Most likely scenario is that you have to be freezing in the back woods to truly enjoy that so I wouldn't add it to a daily menu just yet.

We hung around the camp fire for a good part of the morning receiving instructions for the "solo" adventure we'd be embarking on that night. Basically, how to keep yourself alive. They covered shelters and probably some other things. I just remember what they told us to NOT do for the shelter. And a bunch of Brewster's stories about other kids on solo.

I was really not looking forward to solo and had these hateful thoughts channeling towards Greg most of the time. They'd given us the option to do a duo together instead of a solo and while there were definitely pros and cons to both I was leaning more towards the duo and he was leaning more towards the solo and in a moment of panic and miscommunication he spoke up and committed to the solo.

So see, I don't always get my way in this relationship. And I made a mental note to ream him for it later but by the time I had a chance it didn't even matter that much to me anymore. Who would have thought? Chalk one up in the "adult" column for me.

Eventually our fearless leaders took the boys one way and the girls another. You're within yelling distance of everyone else, but out of sight. I crawled through thigh-deep snow carrying my pack, a duffel bag, sleeping pad, and a tarp to this steep bank and was told "try to pick somewhere up there".

Not in the brightest of moods, I set off, "somewhere up there". It was an annoying climb with hidden rocks to get a foot lodged in and branches to snap in your face and disintegrating logs to suddenly crumble without warning. As you can imagine, this further brightened my mood.

I decided my first plan of action was to build a shelter. This was complicated by the fact that it required an un-gloved hand and somewhat nimble fingers. Normally not a problem but it was negative thirty degrees. I found I had about twenty seconds worth of decent hand function so I could tie about a knot at a time before I'd have to put my glove back on and trek up and down the hill to warm up. I wore a really good trail into that hill by the end of the afternoon.

My first attempt at building a shelter took the better part of an hour before I realized it wasn't going to work. I'm an idiot. So I set to work tying all my massacred twine back together to take a different approach. I was really tempted to just scrap the whole thing and do what they told us not to do: burrito myself in the tarp. I felt pretty protected amongst all the trees and hadn't felt so much as a breeze.

But sometimes I am a strong person and I did put together somewhat of a shelter. Could it withstand much? No. Did it need to? Hopefully not.

Still, I had no idea how I was going to survive the night and spent a lot of time venting my frustrations to my camera to lighten the scenario. In between trekking up and down that blasted hill. Maybe I will share that with you someday. Also, I almost broke a tooth trying to consume a piece of cheese.

It was a really low afternoon.

Meanwhile, Greg had daisies and sparklers and unicorns prancing around his head while setting up "the world's best shelter in just a few minutes and staying nice and cozy and warm and loving the peace and serenity of nature". He probably could have "killed a moose and just feasted out there for weeks".

Man did not catch on to the negative vibes I was sending his way. And actually, the civil engineer in our group definitely had the world's best shelter. I didn't see it but I'm told it involved a reflective heat blanket and a pully system that dropped the tarp after you'd entered and completely shut out all the wind.

Civil engineers clearly have their perks.

As the sun was setting I heard another person's voice for the first time in hours.


I responded and was delivered glorious news: solo was cancelled.

Apparently there is this policy that if it's going to be below negative thirty, you can't solo. And it was definitely going to be below negative thirty.

Wahoo! I mean, dang it. That would have been such a rewarding experience.

I ripped down my shelter, which took all of 2 seconds cause a hamster could have brought that thing to the ground, and scampered back to camp as fast as I could. Only pausing to loan my knife to a buddy who'd lost hers in the snow trenches.

So instead of shivering by myself underneath a tarp in the middle of the woods on New Years Eve, I was eating like a king in the wall tent with friends and setting off an illegal lantern at midnight. Or our midnight which was probably closer to eight o'clock.

It was a pleasant trade-off.

Have a great day :-)

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