Friday, January 24, 2014

Yoo 583 - Outward Bound Dog Sledding Days Seven and Eight

^^ one of our sleds, empty and suddenly devoid of purpose ^^

^^ hanging tarps ^^

^^ THE only picture i got from the plunge. it was really hard to even get this one. the river is in the background and the hole is off to the left and i'm freezing. i'm pretty sure i ripped my socks trying to un-stick myself after standing there for five seconds. ^^

^^ we played that game where everyone writes a sentence on piece of paper and then you pass it to your left and the next person draws a picture of that sentence and then folds it over so the next person can only see the picture and has to write a sentence about the picture and so on and so on. this one started with "a funky bunch shivering in the cold, petting dogs" and ended with "there was a dog with star feet and a talking cat that weren't invited to the wall tent party." ^^

^^ "i just got snow on my butt!" morphed into "poop in storm doesn't keep you warm." ^^

^^ greg's "this week was fun because i got to go dog sledding" became "catching frozen rainbow droplets in an empty can while driving my rat sled"? ^^

^^ for some reason, a lot of these had to do with poop. obviously it was a substantial memory from the week. "pooping in the woods is so much fun!" to "we love chopping firewood in plaid." this is such a great game...but you probably have to be really tired and fresh off a good camping trip to appreciate it. ^^

^^ our blurry group picture. my favorite part is greg holding up the snack crackers. and brewster's orca mittens. (no whales were actually harmed in the making of those mittens...i think). ^^

^^ this is us scraping the windshield with credit cards. i don't own an ice scraper anymore and didn't think to grab one! the ice was way too thick after we got past the defrosted part so i had to stop a car and admit that we were stupid and from texas and needed to borrow an ice scraper. ^^

^^ experiencing a frozen car for probably the first time in his life ^^

^^ the duluth airport. it's tiny. ^^

^^ duluth parking meters... ^^

I'm getting to the end!

Not much happened during the last couple days except for maybe the most notorious event of the whole trip.

We spent the morning cleaning up and checking in gear. It was super nice to be able to borrow expensive things like negative-a-thousand-degrees sleeping bags and marshmallow puffy coats. Brownie points for Outward Bound. More crackers were discovered and consumed during this process.

Have I mentioned cracker o'clock? How could I forget! Cracker o'clock was the best time of the day and not racially derogatory in the slightest. It happened shortly after arriving at camp every day and immediately before night chores. Like an afternoon snack except better and sometimes with cookie dough instead of crackers.

This trip has intensified my love of crackers.

Right. So gear and then I made a coffee cake in a pan the size of a small sled and Greg washed dishes using a Hobart commercial dishwasher. (so cool). It shouldn't have been fun and I was basically paying to do the things I do at home except it was in a cabin in arctic Minnesota. And it wasn't actually a cabin but I think everything should be considered a cabin in the snow.

Eventually it was sauna time.

Sauna time is what I'd been anticipating the whole week! Just baking my body. But there's a huge caveat and that caveat is a hole in the partially frozen river adjoining the sauna which you are encouraged to jump in after baking in the sauna.

It tortured me. I hate backing down from unique experiences! But I was so happy to be warm and so tired of being cold. I just doubted that I would ever get so hot in the sauna that I would be jonsing to jump into an ice hole.

I wish I'd gotten a picture of that hole. The river was frozen over with at least ten inches of ice and piles of snow. But there was a short path thru the snow to this probably nine square foot hole revealing three feet of the most frigid water. The hole, when not in use, was covered with a big wood board to keep from freezing but it had to be freshly chopped every ten minutes or so because it still froze.

Not surprising in NEGATIVE 30 SOME DEGREES.

But back to the sauna. Ripping my clothes off down to a bathing suit in the changing room was killer. Not because of the stench either. It was the first time I'd taken those clothes off in a week...but more so because the changing room wasn't heated. You just stop caring about things like personal hygiene when it requires flirting with death to be clean. At least I did. Fresh underwear? Low on the list of priorities! But it did feel good to slip into that swimsuit and transition from the freezer to the oven!!

I think the sauna was somewhere between 210 and 230 degrees Fahrenheit. My heaven. We sat there for about 15 minutes and I didn't even break a sweat.

And then Brewster announced it was plunge time.

Plunge time involves a frenzied exodus from the sauna and running down the snow trail to the hole. If you're smart you're wearing wool socks so your bare feet don't freeze to the snow. Just your socks freeze to the snow...way more replaceable. Once at the hole, and in an orderly fashion, everyone takes turns jumping in, gasping for breath, and, if you're truly crazy, dunking under. The first person gets to break the thin layer of ice that forms with their body. How lucky! After the dunk, you hoist your body out of the water and onto the ice and scramble into a vertical position for a mad sprint back to the sauna. This is complicated by your wet socks freezing to the ice with every step.

I mean, doesn't this just sound like a blast and completely sane?? It was and it wasn't.

In college I used to sit in the snow after soaking in hot springs for hours. That was pleasant. This was crazy.

I wasn't brave enough to take the plunge on the first go-round. Or the second. Both times I ran out to the hole with the group and just couldn't bring myself to jump in that ice bath! Greg did. He was even first jumper once. And dunked! Everyone in my group did and I could not.

It finally came down to the last plunge and I knew I would eventually regret not jumping. It'd be at home when I was warm and not feeling the reality of deathly cold, but I'd regret it. I had to jump but naturally I made it about as painful for myself as I could.

I hadn't quite made up my mind about jumping when I slid my toe in the water. NEVER TEST THE WATER. I knew this but I did it anyway. Like sin, you know. It starts with the small things. Well, I'd dipped the toe and it was torturous as could be but surprisingly a leg followed. I was straddling the ice at this point and the only natural progression was to just let the rest of my body fall in. So I did. Dunked and everything!

It was an eye-opener. But I made it thru the scrambling out part and then proceeded to sprint back to the sauna while repeating a mantra of swear words under my breath. I was in shock...

So that was kind of the highlight of the day.

We showered after. It was warm. And then it took me 20 minutes to pick thru my hair, even after using about a gallon of conditioner. At one point I really thought I might have to cut it all off. But the comb eventually was victorious and that ordeal ended.

There was a fancy-ish dinner to celebrate surviving the week. It was delicious. I even wanted seconds of the salad. And then Greg ate 2 brownie sundaes and I gave him the eye that I learned from my mom.

I guess you really don't need a play-by-play of all this. We slept and ate again and then said goodbye first thing in the morning to start the drive back to Duluth. It was a slippery drive, too. At one point I thought for sure we were crashing but miraculously we didn't.

We were sad to see our buddies go so we thawed out our car and had everyone pile in to kill a couple hours before their flights. This involved a place called Pizza Luce and the food was good but I was blown away when the waitress happily agreed to put drinks on separate checks with 3 pizzas split 5 ways. There weren't even any problems! Why can't every place be like that?

Then we drove the 10.5 hours back to Nebraska. There wasn't any traffic until I took over driving and that instantly reminded me why I love being away from people. Cold isn't so bad...

Have a great day :-)

1 comment:

Nicole Jessop said...

You are crazy but I'm always so impressed how studly you are. I would never even consider a trip like that. I'm glad you made it out alive and with all of your various appendages :)