Friday, February 18, 2011

NHVSP 2011 Update 5

 After parents day we frantically packed our bags, cleaned up camp, had an awesome dinner of leftover desserts at Lisl’s, and a big bacon, egg and orange juice breakfast at Misha’s.  Then we left on foot, skis on our back, headed into the west. We met Lisl on the way with a bag full of big warm chocolate chip cookies, and shortly after we put on our skis on the side of the road, we learned a lesson from Misha (don’t eat snow!) and skied across Lake Warrren.

Our little home in the woods.
Soon, our expected 5.5 k for the day turned into 9.5, after which we learned to set up camp, collect boughs, find dry firewood and process it. Just before darkness, help arrived in the form of Stefan Hofer (Lisl’s son and a semester graduate). We learned that one has to eat more than usual in the wilderness in order to have energy for an active lifestyle and to keep warm.

On the trail
Over the coming days, we learned the lifestyle we were to live for the next weeks, fell into the rhythm of quickly packing, eating and downing 4+ bowlfuls of water, then skiing until the afternoon while minimizing stops, and setting up camp quickly and efficiently. We had two liveovers over the last two weeks in which we didn’t move camp, so we slept in, washed, did our laundry and learned about Wilderness First Aid and knot tying. Everyone learned parts of their big jobs, which they didn’t expect, from Zane (aka “Poopsic” - Russian for Cupid) having to designate a pee tree, to Rosa cooking four days in a row (cooking entails waking up at 4:30 AM). We experienced cold winds to thunderstorms and gentle flurries to violent blizzards.

Chloe, Serene, and Rosa.
On day four we decided that breaking trail through two feet of snow for nine miles was not a good option, and instead we roadwalked for 12 kilometers from Athens to Grafton,  We were too late for a visit to the Grafton Cheese Factory, where the immense amounts of yummy cheddar cheese we eat are made. Instead, Misha went and bought us apples and chocolate. We did a total of 17.5 km that day, and luckily found an old CCC cabin on the side of the trail to stay in for the night.

That worked out perfectly as there was a huge thunderstorm at night, which iced up conditions for the next few days. Our journey included some downhills, which featured faceplants, falls and classic crashes out of which everyone came smiling. One memorable downhill was after our second liveover when we bushwhacked through perfect powder, being able to choose our own trails through the woods, down gentle slopes and over giant jumps.

Chris Knapp leads a bud and twig drawing class.
One day after our service project for Farm and Wilderness, which entailed shoveling a pond for their annual ice cutting weekend, we slept in their summer screened porch – some on the spice shelves, some on the pasta shelf, some the cereal shelf and some on the sauces and spreads shelf. We also discovered their stylish composting toilets, which are double-seated thrones with no walls called Kybos.

50 degrees at Farm and Wilderness.
We got to Farm and Wilderness just last Monday, Feb 14. To our surprise we found out that we were a day early! So we got a nice head start on the tons of academic work that had to be completed. The trailer arrived the next day and we met Nate and our new teacher for the next leg, Chris.  Those of us with delaminating Fischer skies replaced them for a new model, which proved to be faster and more controlled downhill performers. We also went on a grand social event with Chris who introduced us to all his friends, Red Maple, Spruce,  White Pine, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, White Birch, Oak and many more. We are now busily preparing for the next leg, in which the focus will shift from learning how to travel in the bush to the crafts and knowledge of long term  bush-living.

Jon, Birthday Boy and Camp Manager preparing our new tent.

The Poet’s Yurt
Each step deliberate
Each movement with a goal
We trudge forward
Towards the north
Around us the woods glisten in the sun
The snow falls on our shoulder
The wind whips our bodies
The cold wraps around us
      Driving us on.
Each day longer than the last
Each moment filled with a new challenge
With each ache and pain
   We find a new strength
With each desperate fear,
      We come closer
To one another and the world around.
         -Rosa deJong

Seeking Truth
A new way of life
Beginning to take place
Our hands willing the tasks
Our minds holding the knowledge
With every stride
We glide closer to our hard earned destination
The snow falls
The sun glistens through the trees
We steadily climb each mountain within ourselves
We cry, we laugh, we hold each other
The forest whispers honesty and truth
To guide us down the path to the
       Home of our beings
       -Serene Summerfield
Quote of the Trail: “If you will it, it is no dream”  -Theodore Hertzl
Serene's sketch of red maple - form, bark, bud, and twig.

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