I confess. This is the first winter camping trip where we didn’t camp. I’ve never been so tested on how many times our adventure plans could change.
Original plans went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Then became 2, 3, 4, 5, 1.
Then 2b, 3, 4, 5, 1. Then…
Finally the end result was @#$%!!?, 3, 2z, 3, 2z, 4c, 3, 5, 1. (If you need a diagram of this kind of plan)
It was still a fantastic winter adventure like no other we’ve had.
“It’s like the surface of Neptune!”
Will would say many many times on this trip. The polar vortex 2021 meant that our day time high temperatures were usually around -10ºF. Lows around -30 or even -40ºF, without windchill. We were awed watching the steam billowing off of Lake Superior with the ice sculptured rocks and Will said bug eyed “It’s the surface of Neptune!” And again whenever we’d open the cabin door. And again when laughing at me all bundled up.
This supremely freezing weather is also what a friend of ours would call “Not hot.”
Dressed properly, and moving we’d get warm enough to be comfortable. But then stopping for just 10 minutes to pee or eat, and our fingers would freeze. We’d get moving again while both saying to each other,
“Yup. Not hot.”
This gets nominated for understatement of the year.
Despite the extreme cold there were still places in the BWCA Wilderness with open liquid water. There have been years Will has broken through the ice (see here, and here). This would have been an especially bad year to get wet.
So near rapids or river constrictions, when we were concerned, Will would take out his hatchet and chop the ice to see the thickness and quality of the ice. Four inches is plenty thick for walking, some will ski on less than 2 inches. It was a reassuring pattern. As often as needed, I’d wait for Will to to check and then we’d keep moving. After miles of this pattern, Will stood up and reported.
And now that you are properly calibrated to what “not hot” means, you can imagine what “not thick” translates to. So we abruptly turned around muttering,
“Nope. Nope. Nope. Not hot. Not thick.”
To be continued…
Part two: Stick Bathing