Let’s be real – this winter, most of the United States has been absolutely hammered with foul, freezing weather while here in California, we shuffle around in our flip-flops, drinking margaritas and throwing frisbees. Sorry but not sorry, rest of the country.
However, this warm, droughty situation also means that it’s been nearly impossible for me to squeeze out the requirements for the Winter Sports badge…well, until a few weekends ago, that is! As part of the fantastic Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course, I headed up to Rock Creek Lake in the Eastern Sierras for what was dubbed “Snow Camp” and this was no misnomer – as soon as we hit the trailhead, we strapped on our snowshoes and it was a very cold, very snowy GAME ON:
I’ll post about the full experience on ModernHiker.com soon, so I’ll spare you the (freezing, yet fun) details, but here’s a summary of what I accomplished in Scout-speak:
#1. Show proficiency in one of the following: (a) Showshoeing: lay a cross-country trail that can be followed by members of your troop or your friends. (b) Skiing: simple downhill running, cross-country running, climbing, snowplow, snowplow turn, and kick turn. (c) Skating: learn how to hold each edge, inside and out, forward and back for a big half circle or longer before you put your other foot down. Learn to stop and start quickly. Practice stroking to music.
Since we all know that I loathe ice skating, and since the local ski hills are rather dusty, I snowshoed my little brains out during our 3-day trip. I snowshoed 3.5 miles to our campsite, a mile to the toilet, a mile from the toilet, up a thousand feet, down a thousand feet, and plenty of places in between. I broke trail a few times, which is very, very hard work – my quads and hammies were quite tired – but there is something so very satisfying about leaving your (snowshoe) mark in fresh snow.
#2. Take part at least three times in three of the following: coasting or bobsledding; tobogganing; sleighing; ice and snow games; tracking and trailing in snow.
As you can see from the photo above, I engaged in some rather sloppy faux-glissading using a torn-up garbage bag as my makeshift sled / toboggan / sleigh. I did this umpteen times, so theoretically, that counts. But hey, let’s be fair – I also identified several animal tracks (ok, they were dog tracks – but dogs are animals, guys) in the snow, and even lobbed a few frosty whippers in a snowball fight a few weeks prior:
#14. Make several snow figures or build a snow hut.
[See snow figure above] My Wisconsin childhood came rushing back once we encountered the white stuff. I have fond memories of using a yellow plastic thingie to make ice blocks in a noble attempt at building an igloo. Here, however, we learned to build snow shelters that would help keep us warm were we stuck in some sort of epic whiteout. Because I was with a group of equally over-achieving individuals, we also took it upon ourselves to make a snow lounge. Below, you will see a) me helping excavate the entrance to our snow cave, b) me being shoved inside what was affectionately referred to as a “snow grave,” and c) our high-tech snow lounge:
#6. Read one book about Arctic explorers, Eskimos, or other people who are snowbound for many months of the year. Or, read one book featuring some aspect of winter sports.
Ok, this doesn’t technically have anything to do with my Sierra field trip, but I think it would be boring to use up an entire post writing about the book I read, Tanis Rideout’s Above All Things, a thick piece of historical semi-fiction centered on Everest explorer George Mallory and his lovelorn wife Ruth. I actually procured this juicy little piece of mountain romance from my friend Christy, she of the ice skating adventure. She never finished the book because it wasn’t bodice-ripping enough for her liking, so I happily plowed through, enjoying the dramatization of George’s snowy escapades way more than Ruth’s sad musings, and the book now sits amongst my collection of mountain tomes. I’m like a one-woman adventure library, and I’m fine with that. In fact, I’ll probably meet my hunky mountain-man soulmate on Goodreads, once we realize we have the same dorky book collection.
In related, yet unrelated news, I’m going to leave you with this warm thought:
TOM HARDY AS GEORGE MALLORY
Huzzah. On that note, off to write my own Everest romance novel…