Letter from the cabin 03-25-2018
The days are warming. The sun rises earlier in the morning as we reach the spring equinox, and conversely the sun sets later in the evening. This normal turn of the season could bring on a deadly turn of events for the wilderness trekker. Be advised.
After dawn, on crisp days in the early morning, the crust of the snow may be frozen, like heavy skim ice on a lake. This occurs from the retreat of the sun in the darkness of the night. This crust can make for deceptively easy walking early in the day. Many a unwary traveler has left their snowshoes back at camp or perhaps in their car, not thinking I suppose of the danger that may occur. Miles from their snowshoes the traveler on foot my find that the afternoon sun has warmed the snow and the crust no longer supports their weight. Thigh deep snow can be like white frozen quicksand and quickly tire the winter trekker. The mind numbing chill of hypothermia may not be far behind. Keep in mind, that death stalks the impetuous and the ill-informed alike. I can’t emphasize enough, never venture into the woods without a source of fire. Even a short hike can bring disaster if you are not prepared for the worst. If you find yourself stranded make a fire and prepare for a night in the cold. If you haven’t already read Jack London’s almost immortal tale, To Light A Fire put this short story on your must read list. Take London’s story as more than metaphor, prepare for survival in the wilderness, read, study, and think about all of those who might be left behind if you perish. And, as what might seem almost commonsensical, don’t do as Jack London’s protagonist did, make your fire underneath a conifer tree with branches loaded with snow. It goes almost without saying while still light, gather enough firewood for the long winter night. Make a snow cave or shelter of some sort and if you don’t know how get a book on winter survival, or just ask a Boy Scout. As night descends, and the temperature drops the crust may well again reform, making for an early morning safe return to camp or car. If it doesn’t stay put and keep warm by the fire. Someone will probably know you are missing and seek help. Remember snowshoes are more than just quaint wall hangers. Don’t leave camp without them.
Hilton Everett Moore
Leave a Reply.