|Mathilde dipping from a spring|
After saying a sad goodbye to Misha and cheering ourselves up with melted ice cream, we left Farm and Wilderness in a rainstorm. We ascended the slopes over Woodward reservoir and kept going on the groomed snowmobile trails in slushy conditions. We were happy – we were back on trail!
The second leg went by even quicker than the first. We had a total of four liveover days – twice as many as in the first leg. We used these nonmoving days to learn bush skills: how to build a fire on top of the snow, how to build a winter-worthy shelter, identify trees, learn about the history of logging and forestry in the Northeast and tell the weather, among other things. On one liveover, we had a two-hour fire solo alone in the woods. Each of us built and tended our own fires on top of the snow. To be honest, my fire solo was closer to three hours, which caused a good amount of amusement when I came back in the middle of lunch.
|Tim, Rosa, and Bridie's shelter|
Another liveover was spent in groups of three in secluded spots throughout a beaver flowage. We built shelters, cooked dinner and spent the night out. Everyone made exceptionally beautiful shelters and stayed comfortable and warm without a sleeping bag through the night. Julian, Jon and myself underestimated the amount of firewood we needed, and so we went on a firewood hunt at 5:00 AM. Bridie declared it “the best night ever!”
|Tobias on the icy trail.|
One glorious day, we missed a turn and instead of our planned gradual descent we found ourselves descending Bloodroot Mountain on extremely steep slopes. That night, spirits were high. We camped on an old homestead, surrounded by beautiful stone walls and apple trees.
As a part of our Vermont History curriculum we met Tweeter, an old-time logger who knows the ways of the forest. We made camp early and skied down tricky hills, without packs – a challenge we all craved. We listened to Tweeter’s interesting stories about his life and the business of logging. When we returned to camp, Sam stacked the immense amount of twigs we had onto one pile. That night, he lit a giant bonfire, around which he and a number of other people danced and hollered. Serene spent that evening without a cup after Zane hung it on the top of the tent post as a punishment for leaving it everywhere.
That same day was when Jake felt an irresistible “call of the wild,” he went up ahead during one of our stops. A few minutes later, a bunch of snowmobilers came up on the trail and stopped to see what we were up to – ‘tis not every day you see a bunch of cross-country skiers with packs! The first snowmobiler said to us, somewhat concerned: “We saw a lone pack ahead, on the side of the trail, and we were wondering…“ and then his friend came up to the first and whispered to him: “We found him - he was pooping in the woods.” The snowmobilers went away and soon we found a very-surprised Jake and all was good.
|Sam sets the stove.|
A wave of vomit went through some of our troops on our longest day yet – 20 kilometers. Our leader for that day was a sick Rosa, who passed out on her pack every time we stopped, and fell asleep as soon as we got to camp, covered in sleeping bags. Tobias was also sick that night, and very gracefully excused himself from evening meeting with the phrase “Oh, Word!” The next day, they felt much better and ate ravenously.
One sleety day, Serene was helping out in the wood yard, and paused to ask Chris a question. She had a huge log in her arms, and so when we looked over it seemed like she was waltzing with the log, swaying back and forth with her eyes focused on the distance. That same day, we heard much Norwegian as Mathilde got tired of speaking English.
On another day we climbed up Mt. Abraham all the way to its icy top while dragging our skis behind. We were rewarded for our efforts by rare, perfect weather on the peak, allowing us to see from the White Mountains to the Adirondacks and all across the state of Vermont. We kept skiing on the ridge, dodging strong mountain spruce branches until we got to the peak of Lincoln Peak – the top of Sugar Bush ski resort, one of the biggest downhill ski resorts in Vermont, where we got many questioning looks from passing skiers as we skied down the slopes, and sometimes we were even stopped by interested skiers.
|On top of Mt Abe.|
After our little encounter with civilization, which included smells from the resort’s restaurant, we reached our last camp for the second leg at the “cheesy swamp,” a beaver bog where we could see houses on the shore.
|Nimrod, our scribe.|
On the way to our second layover, I was concentrating on skiing downhill through the thick crust when I was suddenly ambushed by a herd of fleeing deer. I had to fall backwards so as to not crash into one of them as it jumped over my skis. They whirled around me for about 30 seconds until they disappeared into the bush. That was the same day when Tim, instead of traversing downhill like everyone else, decided to go straight downhill through the bush, a decision which resulted in a beautiful faceplant out of which he rose with a happy, snow-covered smile.
We’re now on our second layover in The Battleground Condominium number 18, where we’re wrapping up the last leg. We are excited for the next leg, where we will be much more independent from our teachers Chris, Nate and Lu, and preparing for the group solo.
The Poet’s Yurt
Looooove letter to fire
My dearest and most wonderful fire.
I looooove you!
Thank you for holding me tight on that chilly night
Without you I wouldn’t know what to do
Could you be more perfect? Here
I’ll cook your meal, boil your water, dry your wet clothes
And keep you warm, just feed me
And I’ll sit here and look just fantastic.
You look sooo good all the time
I could stare at you for hours!
I’m gonna take you out for a steak.
Thank you for bringing light and warmth
Into my life.
Your beautiful glow and voice that talks
I don’t even mind when you burn my socks. It’s my B
I’ll see you soon because we can’t be apart, Hot Stuff
Love, Tobias Yandow
Ode to fire
I built myself a house, a place to rest my body,
a dwelling for my nightly thoughts and dreams.
A shelter from wind and water. At it’s center,
And in my heart’s center, I build you a
House. You, who comes with warmth and
Light, awakens my spirit.
There is no home in a house without
You, nor life in my body.
I call for you, and if I call with love,
You come. If I build you a home in recalling of
All our moments together, long of stolen glints, our shared
Pleasures, you will come. I am learning to
Know you, I’m on the path to understanding
And you in turn will love me, and
Answer your kin’s calls with pleasure.
My hands are tender around you, and all the
time you stay with me I care for
you as were you my own blood,
though I know you are bigger than all my
life and hold power I can never match.
Fire, you are in everything,
Hear my praise.
Quote of the Trail: “Roads go ever-ever on” – J.R.R Tolkien