Thursday 13 – February 11, 2010: 13 Things I Learned From my Outward Bound Expedition

Today is Thursday. As I stared out the train window this morning, noodling on things to write for TT, I found myself musing about the snow. So, my TT today is about what I learned, camping in harsher weather even than today’s Chicago day.

1. If you write it and share it, people respond. Outward Bound International posted my alumni story on their website!

2. I can survive zero degree weather without a tent.

3 The heat triangle, made up of layered clothing, movement, and food, is what keeps you alive in extreme cold.

4. There are few bugs in the Boundary Waters in winter. For this I am grateful.

5. You need a lot more calories when you’re on the ice for 6 days, traveling 35 miles through ice and snow on cross country skis and a dog sled.

6. No one rests on a dog sled. Those fancy seated sleds they use on the silver screen? Pansies. We helped push our sled – the front one weighed 550 pounds, and the rear one 350!

7. I never knew I could smell like that. Exertion, no showers, 7 days = stinkeh Nooneh!

8 The dogs? Yeah, they don’t bathe either.

9. One of the dogs ate a raven out of the sky.

No, I’m not kidding. The dogs are fed raw meat that’s been frozen, with boiling water poured over it to make a kind of stew. This is so they get water, since they genetically won’t drink (they live in frozen areas like Alaska and Antarctica, so they don’t react to water like a pet dog would). The ravens, which are ginormous, want the meat too and dive-bomb the dogs. The ravens know exactly where the edges of the chain allow the dog to get to. One decided to dive-bomb and peck one of the dogs as she slept on her roof. Thwap. Thwap. Thwap.


No more raven.

Nuff said.

9. I can camp by myself on the ice overnight, and cut down my own tree. Hoo-rah!

10. I didn’t write the whole time I was out there. I actually found that the writing pulled me out of the moment, and that I wanted to make sure I stayed present. Instead of writing, I hung out and relaxed when we weren’t moving around. It felt good.

11. It’s hard to explain my reality to others, even ones on expedition with one.

12. Snow in Chicago is no sweat after camping in colder and more icy weather.

13. Clearwater Lake is God’s Country. I wish I could write well enough to do it justice.

15 Replies to “Thursday 13 – February 11, 2010: 13 Things I Learned From my Outward Bound Expedition”

  1. You’d be surprised what you can do. That’s the whole point of Outward Bound, to stretch our ideas of what is possible. I went on an “Adult Renewal” course, which was for people 30 years of age and older, so you’re not trying to wander around the outback with young bucks who are in loads better shape. It is totally worth it.

  2. Did you have to tell us that about spiders? Egads! I envy your freedom to do what you did. Thanks for sharing it with us. Happy T13!

    Oh, why not fly me an email and tell me roughly what you had in mind for journals and the like. Also the number of copies and I’ll figure out some rough numbers for you.

  3. Camping in winter…I can’t say that’s something I’d like to experience. I get cold just sitting in my apartment! I bet the evening sky is amazing, though.

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