Hannah+Utah= Go Outside
So I tagged along with the Adventure Crew on their 5th annual MLK weekend outing to Buckhorn Wash in the San Rafael Swell.
"Oh yeah," some dudes said, "it’s usually around 50 degrees during the day, but low twenties at night. It will be great climbing weather." I didn't bring boots, just some trail runners and some Tevas, some sweatshirts, lots of thermals, and a pair of fleece pjs- I was prepared for some clear sunny skies and chilly nights. I checked Weather Underground, showing low 40s for the weekend, but thought nothing of it.
The car I rode out in was the car with this year's camp starters: Chaison and Clark, two muscley dudes that chop wood and climb rocks. There was also two dogs, two cooking stoves, foodage, 15 gallons of water, sleep stuff, and 5 bags of climbing gear. I was confident in this adventure and sooooo ready to be out of the wasatch inversion.
it was dark when we got the the turn off.
the snow was deep in Huntington, and deep at the turn off for buckhorn.....
the snow was still deep in the desert. but the stars were gorgeous and i ran with the dogs for a while on the road in front of the car without the lights, on thinking about all the desert creatures that weren't making any noise- frozen mice, frozen snakes, frozen crickets, frozen sagebrush, frozen breath, frozen sound.
when we showed up to their regular camp spot, there was 6 inches of snow. I had never been in this particular area, or even an area similar to the "Little Grand Sanyon". so i left it to the eagle scout and survivor man to evaluate our camping situation:
mind you, its 10:30 at night in the desert in january
Q- do we stay here, or go to red canyon to see if it's any better?
A-no, stay here until the rest of the crew shows up tomorrow.
Q- do we have enough firewood?
A-the wood we do have is wet cherry wood. it needs to burn hot. we can gather kindling if needed
Q- okay. who's hungry?
A- (chase)i am... (clark)i am.... (me, realizing i have to get serious and woman up because) i am.... and guys, i didn't bring boots, just trail runners and slippers.
DUHN- Duhn- duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......................... uhhhhhhhh...............
Needless to say, it was the coldest i have ever been. simply walking from the car to the fire pit soaked my shoes, and then we had to go to the frozen river to collect tamarisk so our fire would live past a flame. And it was the second time in three months i painfully learned the lesson of proper shoe preparedness. My shoes were cold, i was a little upset at myself, but we got the fire going and made excellent burritos. It was gorgeous and quiet- new moon, desert sky- the stars were phenomenal. i looked up at the sky and did my astronomy homework instantly (i now am able to find all the zodiac constillations on the ecliptic)
Night came and i was in a borrowed sleeping bag, on a tarp, under a rock overhang, freezing. my feet were cold, my legs were cold, my bum was cold and i woke up every 30 minutes to rub my feet and legs together in order to get warm. i whimpered for a while, then had a panic attack because i was scary cold. then i got out of the sleeping bag and peed, trying to accept the cold. i did, and realized that NOBODY could help me but myself. So i shoved my coat in the bag to take up space and spooned Beige the dog with my legs.
I got some good sleep once the sun was up. Breakfast- Banana Pancakes. And I put better thermals on.
Lesson I learned that night- the desert is cold and so is winter. Be prepared. AND save my money so i can by MY OWN GEAR that i purchase because it WORKS FOR ME and MY NEEDS. i deserve it. totally. Also, i learned that i can take care of myself and i need to. Why? because i have to. My survival- physical and intrinsically- depend on my ability to survive, meaning taking care of myself and trusting my self’s better judgment in order to be self reliant.
Self reliance is more than just food storage and having a successful emergency zombie-attack survival plan. Self reliance is knowing exactly what you need to survive in comfort and in health. I survived through the night, and without frost bite- yet I was really, really cold. Survival, as a way of life, is more than just living through the night. Its survival of your human element. Think Cast Away:
So after the coldest night of my life, another third of the crew showed up around noon- uncle bacon, Erica, the wizard, and some dudes from arizona. one of the dude's laughs is exactly like my uncle david's. We decide to stay in the alcove for the next night- but this time I am borrowing a sleeping bag and sleeping in a tent at night. MUCH warmer. And we spend most of the afternoon sunlight gathering more kindling and finding dead trees felled by beavers for firewood.
SURVIVAL TIP: when gathering firewood away from camp, fashion a sled out of the wood. This way, three girls can return to camp with enough firewood for 20+ hours of fire. And then boys chop it and build a fire while the girls give eachother manicures and have babies.
After dark, the rest of the crew showed up and they brought great firewood. At one point, someone through 8 logs on the fire, for we had waxed rich in firewood bounty.
The next day, I fell in a frozen river. This one in fact:
But I caught myself on the ice before I submerged and pulled myself out before I knew what was happening. I ran out of the slot canyon and up to the cars- about 2 miles- because I knew the three, wet layers of cotton on my legs would chill me to the bone and the two pairs of soaking socks in canvas shoes would freeze around my foot if I walked coolly out the canyon, through 6 inches of snow.
It was kind of fun- turning to my friends and saying “no… you guys go ahead… I gotta get out of here before I die” and then running in order to save my extremities from certain ice cubage. My friends did turn around, taking my dip as a sign from the river gods, and James Clark ran out with me- encouraging me to keep moving.
I got back to the car, to fresh thermals, to fleece pajama bottoms, and dry socks, and was in shock for about an hour. I warmed up after two. I am so grateful for what I have, but I know that I can have exactly what I need when I need it. By using my resources (financial, energy, skills) to acquire what I need, rather than what I want, I can become self reliant. It is like food storage, but on the scale of my whole being rather than just food.
And I’ve discovered Multi Grain Wasa Bread. 13 gram of fiber in a serving. Peanut Butter the top+ walnuts, cranberries, and semisweet chocolate pieces= survival of the fittest.