Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter Backpacking

I'm taking a class at UNH this semester called Winter Adventure Experience. The class consists of weekly gatherings on Friday afternoons where we review our winter camping skills and practice Cross Country Skiing. Ultimately, we'll be masters of winter camping and Level 1 Nordic Ski Instructors. It's been a great time on what little snow we've had in New Hampshire this winter. Last weekend, we headed out into Barrington, NH where we camped out at Medums Recreation area.

We all met at New Hampshire Hall to sort out group gear and get our personal gear in order. It looked like a gear yard sale outside of the hall. The weather was great, partly cloudy with temps rising into the low 40's. After getting everything sorted out, we loaded into the vans and headed for Mendums. While at the gate waiting for our Professor and TA's to square the car spot away, we got in our traditional circle and started doing warm up drills to get us ready for the ski in. Eventually, we loaded packs on our back, loaded up our sleds and started the short ski in.

My professor is Laurie who has successfully kayaked across the arctic and a whole boat load of other accomplishments too numerous to list; is probably the most excited of all of us. Her enthusiasm for what we do is contagious and she makes you want to be out there. As someone who hates winter, I was actually really enjoying myself. I had a 55lb pack on my back and was towing about 65 lbs in a sled. I was all smiles, a new way to train.

Once we made it into camp, Katie gave her lesson on Leave No Trace in Winter. This little gem was from the human waste station... I was demonstrating how to eat a pike of sh*t.

I set up my tarp to sleep under for the night, my bunk buddy was Laurie. The other teams set up their tents and tarps in a pretty wide area. Once that was done, I made a killer snow table to place my stove on with my cock partner. I made another table too as a prep station. On our next trip I hope to be a little more involved then this. For lunch, Allison and I made tomato soup with rice, butter and cheddar cheese.

From here we went out into the afternoon sun and enjoyed a wonderful ski tour. Rachel gave her lesson on local history of Mendums. We then bushwhacked through the woods on ski's, and then found our way into a sand parking lot (snow covered) where there was a large gravel pile covered in snow. One at a time, we climbed to the top and either crashed off or skied down practicing our tele landings. We had a lot of fun here. Our tour continued across the ridge of the park, where I led us to a bare spot, careening down an icy hill on my back side while my legs got hung up in trees. Not a pretty sight.

Our evening entertainment came courtesy of Will and Alyssa. The 8th Grade prom went off without a hitch. We all dressed in appropriate attire. Myself in a bo peep skirt, tuxedo shirt and my fleece bear hat. Life was good. We munched on appetizers of Shrimp Cocktail, chips and salsa, cookies and candy. The music was all of our favorite early 90's songs, and we all took turns in the dance circle before huddling around our evening fire. An amazing time was had by all before retiring to bed. Temps dipped into the 20's at night. I was in my negative 15 sleeping bag, not realizing that an insulated flap covers the zipper area. In turn, cold air flowed into my bag all night while I lay awake shivering trying to figure out why I was cold.

The next day we reviewed our Nordic Ski Lesson Plans.. and got ready to head on home. A short orienteering course on snowshoes, packing up camp and the short ski out saw the end of a successful weekend. Our next trip is the weekend of March 5th, where we'll spend 2 nights in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.