Archive for the ‘NOLS New Zealand 2011’ Category

Relaxing in the beech forest, we planned out our next ration period.  Instead of carrying nine days of food, we decided to take two days plus a little and head off on a two-day loop.  Our new tent groups sorted out all the food we wanted to eat for the next few days while we cooked up some din din.

In the morning, we got a bright and early start around 8 a.m. after we cached the rest of our food under fallen beech trees, hoping we’d remember the place.  For the first time, we split into two groups and left the instructors who trailed behind an hour or so until they caught up to us and pretended not to know us.

The trail began following a tributary to the Ahuriri River and ran up a side valley which ended in a wall of waterfalls.  Literally.  I’m not joking.  An amphitheater wall of waterfalls.

We had one small climb to get around part of the river and it gave us our first view, albeit foggy, up the valley.  For the beginning, we still had a track which we found pleasant because we didn’t have to trip all over large, cumbersome clumps of tussocks or snow grass.  Under our feet, the soft decomposing beech tree leaves cushioned our feet as we walked through what appeared to be an enchanted forest.  From inside it seemed like it stretched for miles, but in reality it reached about a mile or so ahead of us, a quarter-mile behind us, and maybe a third of a mile up river right of the valley.

Once we reached the gravel flats and exited our enchanted forest, we thought the track would end there as the map indicated, but the trail markers just became orange posts more spread out until they eventually gave way to cairns that did not really follow any rhyme nor reason.  As we grabbed a snack, we looked up from the map at a wall of waterfalls.  A four or five hundred foot wall stretched out with at least five waterfalls cascading down into small braids of the tributary.  At the top it had a relatively flat plateau, where we planned to camp.  Further up, we could catch a glimpse of part of Mt. Huxley and the Huxley glacier far higher than we planned on hiking, but beautiful nonetheless.

The tricky part came when we wanted to get up there.  Looking at the wall, to the left between two of the waterfalls, the section had less of a grade, although still extremely steep.  From afar, it looked sketchy as shit.  Especially with the light rain that kept trying to spurt out of the sky.

We followed the river to the beginning of the section we had identified on the map as least steep (all relative) and where the bold line had casually kinda sorta gone at the sign map at the trailhead where we resupplied.  When we got to the base of it, I felt a little better.  I could see sharp zigs and zags creeping up it and blotches of orange marking the “indicated” way.  It started to rain lightly so I had to change layers quickly and while climbing, I stayed quite warm in just my tank top and shell.

Beginning our zig and zagging, we carefully checked out each shift before doing it since the rock had become incredibly slick and the small foot holds and occasional hand holds would not hold as well.  Luckily, a lot of it had thick, solidly rooting bushes that for the most part did not try to kill you like the matagouri and spaniards, so we could hold onto them as we ascended, occasionally providing spotting and making foot holds with our hands.

At the top of the steep climb, wall in the background to the right.

Slowly but surely, the five of us made it up and could see the other group going through the same decision points below us while Christian and Andy jaunted along behind them.  Some fog had rolled in with the drizzle as we had to cross the top of one of the waterfalls.  We went further back a bit and found a good crossing.

Cairns continued from there in a sort of haphazard way although we ended up finding a few herd paths to follow as we had to find better spots to cross the tops of the other waterfalls.  Making our way further on the plateau proved a bit more difficult than it looked on the map.  The map depicted nice wide contour lines which somehow wanted to translate into “nice grassy meadow” in my head even though I knew it wouldn’t be anything like it.

It did increase a bit in elevation, but that was no longer the challenge.  Now we had to maneuver through large talus rock or through large, clumpy grasses which sometimes tried to throw you into small ankle or knee-deep streams feeding the waterfalls.  They would come out of nowhere and all of a sudden you would get this wet sensation in your foot.

Eventually, we came to the most open area and began scouting for a rumored bivy rock which could sleep three under it.  After a few scouts, we located it and camped around it.  James was the only one who elected to sleep under it, everyone else just wanted a warm dry tent.  And rummy.  The rain persisted in a light mist form and continued with some wind for most of the night.

While that day provided us with some sketchy fun, the next day overwhelmed it with what seemed like the adventure that would not end and kept throwing new challenges at us.

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After Mt. Gladwish, we all ran a bit low on energy and opted for a half day follow-up.  We did the usual, split into two groups and hiked further up the never-ending valley for a few more kilometers until the last hut, aptly named “Top Hut.”  From there, an optional day hike went further up the dense forest without a track.

Due to decreasing energy levels, James was the only one who went up with Christian for a few hours while the rest of us, lounged about, cooked, baked, read, slept.  Andy whipped out his super coffee maker fancy thing that impressed everyone–even the non-coffee drinkers.  The sun shone and we relaxed!

The next day was not quite so relaxing.  Our two groups decided to go slightly different routes to get to the same place.  One group went further up the valley then cut up a shoulder onto the ridge and the other group cut up first, then followed the ridge.  According to our plan, we would meet up somewhere along the ridge, follow the ridge a ways, then drop down the other side to a small tarn (alpine lake) before dropping all the way into the Ahiriri Valley which would be the next day.

They were not kidding when they mentioned immediately going up a steep shoulder.  It started out in a beautiful beech forest where the ground had so many decomposed leaves, it cupped your feet and cushioned them as they pushed us upward.  A track kind of existed with a few orange markers here or there, but it seemed more like a small maze of herd paths through large amounts of slippery tussock grass once we got above the beech trees.  Now, that grass is fine to go up on, but will put you on your ass at least once or twice descending.

The weather seemed to hold through the morning, but as we went up toward the ridge, the cloud cover grew greater and threatened unpleasantness.  The ridge was magnificent with views into each valley and the surrounding mountain tops blanketed in glaciers.  That is, until we lost visibility.  We could see a decent distance, but not much would help us; lucky for us, we took bearings when we noticed the rapid visibility decrease.  It was also pretty easy just following the ridge because all we had to do was not go off of it, making sure it went down on either side.  We did have enough visibility to see about 100 feet in front of us and about the same down either side.

Wind began to whip us and the gortex made its show.  As along as we kept moving we stayed warm as it tried to rain a few times.  Eventually, we saw the tarn and headed down off the ridge carefully through the freshly slick tussock and snow grass caked with prickly matagouri and spaniards.

When we got to the tarn, the camping looked interesting to say the least.  James and I began setting up the tarp between two large boulders, low to the ground with only sitting head room, while the others set up tents over very large bunches of snow grass.  It proved for an interesting sleep as we attempted to form ourselves around the awkward lumps.

We set up an area to didymo, which has been contaminating the water systems in New Zealand.  Between watersheds, the DOC (Department of Conservation) has asked hikers to wash their boots in a salt water solution which kills it off.

With energy running low and not much food left in the ration, we took a day off by the tarn doing first aid classes and the like.  A few people ran back up the ridge to explore a bit in the afternoon, but otherwise, we lounged about, gave Kyle another haircut, and played rummy.

The evening displayed our best “last night stew” abilities.  We divided ourselves into teams after we pooled all our remaining food besides a tid bit for breakfast.  One group made pasta pasta pasta led by Ryan, Haley made stew with all the random things left, and I made a heaping cornbread.  Then we divided everything up between ourselves and for once, everyone was almost full.

In the morning, the weather cleared up for the most part and we headed downhill about 800 meters to get to the base of the Ahuriri valley and find excellent campsites in a beech forest at the bottom.

The route seemed easy enough on the map, but we picked a slightly different ridge to descend without realizing it.  Instead of hiking back up, we decided to make do although we definitely ran into problems near one gully which dropped into a 30 foot cliff and we had to hike up a bit anyway, but we made it down in one piece to see the clouds make crazy ridiculous shapes across the sky.  I think New Zealand gets the crazy clouds award.

While making camp, we got to make a wish on 11:11 on November the 11th, 2011.  All of us set various alarms so none of us missed it.

After setting up camp, we walked back about 15 minutes to the road head at the base of the valley with empty packs, empty fuel bottles, and our trash to get resupplied.  Resupply was glorious along with new tent groups and a bag of extra food that Amy had promised to add to our rations to appease our appetites.

I was in a new tent group with Heather and JD and Heather and I experienced JD cooking his pink sauce to put on pasta at three times in one ration period.  It’s pink because it’s a mixture between a white sauce and tomato sauce (since there is never enough tomato sauce).  It made an excellent dish for an empty stomach though!

Looking back over the ridge we walked, the Dingle Burn Valley on the Left and the Ahuriri on the right

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Despite a large dinner and dessert, we all awoke super hungry again.  Tracy made excellent sweet couscous combo for all of us and then I made cornbread to pack over for lunch since we somehow have already almost run out of trail snack food.  Oh, right…it’s because we had three trying days in a row and did nothing but go up and down which sets appetites on the “raging” mode.

Good thing, we had a sleep in morning and met up at 10 a.m. for Andy to talk about orienteering using a model of the earth made with his clothes bag and a sharpie.  It made a rather decent impression of the earth but super lumpy looking.

About an hour later, we did the usual splitting into two groups and leaving about 15 minutes apart or so.  Today’s terrain was

Continuing up the Dingle Burn River

pretty easy since the valley had widened out, the track had room to run along the small plateaus next to the river instead of shooting up to get around cliffs that the river ran right up against.

We passed by a “historic hut” which had good camping near it.  We peered in and looked around for a moment and laughed at the sign that forbid people from staying in it.  That might work fine for fair weather but I imagined that many a person has stayed in it to get out of a nasty storm, like the ones that destroyed so many of our tent poles in the mountaineering section.

From there, we stumbled around a few times for the actual trail which was sometimes marked and sometimes not.  It had a few bright orange posts and triangles which were fairly easy to spot when they existed.  It was hard to actually get lost because we just had to stay river left and not leave the valley.  Not hard at all.  We did have one small run-in with a large patch of matagouri which ripped at our skin as we pushed our way through it.

Since we went first, we scouted out our campsite and began picking spots when the other group arrived not long after and joined us in setting everything up.  The sun shone brightly and the air temperature had risen into the 70s, a nice break from the snow and cold we had before.  It inspired us to go jump in the river since we’d dry quickly.  The river water was an entirely different story and I lasted a grand total of five seconds: enough to run in, duck under, and run back out.  Damn glacial melt water.

We even had to find shade from large matagouri bushes because the sun heated up the tents too much and we feared to open the doors and have the super duper annoying sand flies come in and attack us.  We survived and checked our food to make rough meal plans for the rest of the ration because we were afraid that our stomachs would take over and we would have no food left at the end as usual.  I nibbled on spoonfuls of peanut butter from my kilo when there was nothing else.  That was worth it’s weight in gold.  I still would have killed a pound every four days or so normally, but I rationed myself.

The next day, we decided to day hike up Mt. Gladwish which lay just to the east of us.  Instead of the usual two groups leaving 15 minutes apart, we left at the same time, but climbed different ridges to the top, then followed the opposite on the way down.  New Zealand proved its ability for steepness once again as we climbed about 1000 meters in 3 kilometers or, in American, about 3000 feet in 1.8 miles.  This time, we had much less on our backs though which made it quite a bit more pleasant.

We had a fun pow wow and photo-op on the summit since the weather held beautifully and we checked out the Ahuriri Valley which lay on the other side of the ridge where we wanted to head next.

The descent became a little trying on my knees because we went down the steeper, shorter ridge that the other group had gone up.  Tracy’s knees screamed too.  We made it down fine through the tussock grass and had a relaxing late afternoon until the sand flies came out in full force and the mosquito head nets came out quickly.  Haley discovered she could take her trucker hat and put the mesh over her face and secured it with the hood of her jacket easily enough by tightening the strings.  That worked until one got in and all of a sudden she jumped off her butt pad making a loud ruckus.

Our campsite is super small down in the matagouri

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The weather decided to hold up the seven faces of eve to give us a taste of all four seasons on our second day in the backpacking section.  In the morning, Jonah and I went over to Heather, Ryan, and JD’s tent to get breakfast water.  Since it still drizzled from the grey sky, we piled in on top of them with breakfast while they boiled water.

None of us wanted to venture out into the wetness that seemed to surround us: the lake, the river, the rain, the mud.  To get our spirits up and blood moving, we played a large game of Ninja.  That feeling went away fine after about ten minutes of walking though.  We split up in two groups again and slogged through the wet grass that made out rain pants slick within minutes.

The beginning of the terrain eased up nicely along the Dingle River delta and we moved fairly quickly chatting along the way.  Then the trail split: a high water track and a river track.  Judging by the height of the  water river we crossed in the morning and the other rivers in the area, we grudgingly took the high water track which immediately went up.

The precipitation returned turning the track into a muddy mess where we all slipped and slid around.  We followed a fence high above the river, occasionally holding onto it for balance and the rain came down faster until it turned into hail.  When the track went down a bit, it changed to snow and a bit later, back to rain.  It couldn’t decide which way the sky wanted to shit on us.

The rest of the way just went up and down, up and down, never flat.  The pack weight still annoyed me, but the terrain that day wasn’t horrible besides the mud.  At two spots, we had to put up handlines to get down sketchy mud-caked slopes.

At the bottom, we crossed the drainage that flowed back into the river and immediately went up on the other side where I definitely slipped and slid about fifteen feet or so and got a nice big mud stain on my butt.  I chilled with Haley in the back and after that we had fun pointing out new, exotic forms of bright, neon green moss.

Very close to our campsite destination next to a two person hut, we had to traverse a section where the river lay about fifty feet below and the track was barely wide enough to put one foot on.  Placing my feet carefully, I went across with  no problem, but afterwards laughed because there was no way you could put both feet next to eat other that entire section.

Boy, were we hungry after that.  The replacement glue ball for the pump worked fantastically and Jonah made us baller pizza with some of the heavy freshies that we toted around in hopes to use them up so we didn’t have to carry them.

Before we went to bed, Christian and Andy told us we had to have an 8 a.m. start because the next section has a reputation for problems and getting into camp after midnight.  Great.  While the distance was short, it did nothing but shoot up and down constantly and the map had gotten the track wrong so the instructors were going off of a a route another instructor had penciled onto it.  Next to one part, it had arrows and a star indicating sketchy-as-shit pretty much.  This day proved to become one of our most difficult days the whole section and we then evaluated the difficulty of each day based on this third day.

We split into two groups as always, making sure each group was self sufficient in case anything happened and immediately hiked

The Dingle River Valley, New Zealand

upward.  Fantastic way to wake up.  None of us joked or talked – just kept going up.  I had to play “time keeper” and let everyone know when break time was every hour or so, depending on when we found a good spot.  Since the NOLS rations never really gave good opportunities for a regular lunch, we had to eat snacky stuff of leftovers from dinner every hour or so to keep our energy up.  I missed my peanut butter granola burritos and boots-off breaks.

After crossing a creek, we had the crux of the day coming up where the trail literally shot directly up gaining 400 meters of elevation in 1 kilometer which translates in American to about 1200 ft in .62 of a mile.  Hmmmmm.  Yeah.  Steep.  Lucky for us, it had not rained since the day before and the track did not have quite so much mud as before so we slipped and slid a little less.

About half way up, we hit an exposed nub with loose footing and almost no handholds.  The river lay a solid few hundred feet below on a very steep grade.  A handline might have been helpful, but after a bit of scouting and spotting, we found a way up, albeit definitely sketchy.  On top, we took a short break, then continued up far enough to hit a thin layer of snow that had fallen when we trudged through the rain the previous day.

Eventually, we reached the max height and began descending back to another drainage. From there we could actually see no other way around besides walking up the river the way the land had jutted.  Personally not a fan of wet feet, I enjoyed the view, but we all got cold up there and headed down slowly trying not to slip into each other.

“What is brown and sticky?” Andy asked us with a wry smile when we plopped down for some food on an awkward slope yet less steep than the surroundings.

“Mud,” someone answered.

“Poop,” someone else answered.

“A stick!” Andy shouted.

Great.  Thus started more and more bad jokes.  After the hard part ended, we checked the map and we had to cross five more drainages before finding our campsite, i.e. up, down five times with one small plateau atop and between two of them.  Toward the end, Heather had to stop and fix her foot twice which had begun to blister.

An airstrip showed on the map as our last landmark where the track would go across to the other side and we just had to go straight a few hundred feet and a hut would magically appear.  Relieved, we headed straight only to be startled by giant rabbits bounding out of nowhere across our path.  They were legit, bigger than small dogs.

We made peanut butter fudge for dessert that night since dinner filled no one up and we decided we deserved it after finishing in good time and having no significant problems to report.

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The field switch went smoothly as we huddled under a tarp eating the last remnants of the road brecky.  Andy and Christian came over afterwards who were our new instructors and they ended up making a great team, filling our heads with incredibly bad jokes for 26 days.

Back on the bus with Darrell, we listened to Mumford & Sons on repeat for a while, then shifted in a few DJs before stopping for lunch, conveniently near a grocery store.  I decided I would get some extra food to take with me to prevent the lack of food at the end of the rations, especially since my hiker appetite had kicked into full-swing by then and the NOLS rations lacked the heavy carbs and protein that I normally eat on trails.  I walked out of the grocery store with a kilo of peanut butter, a large loaf of bread, a box of tea, a pound of dark chocolate, and half a bag of extra oats that I split with Tracy.

We continued driving along and I slept a little bit on and off when JD or Jonah didn’t blast some old school rap song really loud, rapping along with it and turning their NOLS baseball hats backward or to the side.  Toward dinnertime, we came to a consensus that we wanted to stop for dinner and pay for a meal instead of using ration food which would give us an extra dinner later that week.  The choice was a burger joint in Wanaka where I got a humongous vegan burger.  I decided to eat past being full because I didn’t have anything to save it in because I did not want to carry the trash for a week and I knew I would need the extra calories soon.  I ended up so full that I couldn’t turn without turning my whole body around.  I had not remembered the last time I was that full.

At the campsite we picked the last place the bus could get to and turn around sufficiently, we did a re-ration and shifted the tent groups around.  I ended up in the four person tent for the first time since sea kayaking with James, Jonah, and Tracy.

While refilling the spice kits, I managed to get cayenne pepper in my eye and it stung really badly.  I sat with a piece of cloth over my eye for half an hour before I remembered the bread trick and I ran to rip a piece of bread and place it on my eye and it soaked up all the cayenne in only a few moments.  At that point, I silently thanked the old Irish guy who I hiked with a bit in Spain who taught me that trick and told me tales of his psychedelic drug adventures in the Himalayas.

Andy and Christian decided we should have a 10 a.m. meeting time to hike about 10km down the dirt road to a track along Lake Hawea.  All of us stared blankly not believing we would meet anytime after 7 or 8 in the morning after Roger.

In the morning we did have to delay it a bit because our stove wouldn’t work.  We took the whole thing apart, cleaned it, checked just about everything for about an hour and still couldn’t get it to work.  We finally borrowed a stove from another group to make breakfast, get our departure time delayed slightly and decided to fix it when we set up camp later.

We split into two groups and set out about 15 minutes apart.  The sun shone brightly and our packs were newly heavy after adding the whole ration of food and copious amounts of fuel to them.  At that point, I felt like karma kicked me in the ass for laughing at people who backpacked with frying pans and any food that needs more cooking than just boiling water because they weigh so much.

The 10 km went by quickly and we got to our campsite tucked into a grove of manuka trees.  On the way, some rain had come in for a bit, but soon passed and the skies opened back up for the sun by the time we saw the manuka head between the river and the lake.

Since we arrived in the first group, we scouted campsites, set up the tarp and filled the dromedaries for cooking later.  Not long after, the second group arrived and helped us set everything else up.  We went to work on deciphering the problem of the broken stove and discovered that the stove itself had no problems, but rather an obscure little rubber ball inside the pump had mysteriously disappeared.  Poking through the MSR repair kit, we had just about everything but the ball part.  We tried several things including cutting a small notch out of my plastic blue fake crocs as well as a few of the balls on my earings, but none of those worked.  Andy and James set out to McGiver a part together.  Andy made a super glue ball while James used a washer covered in glue.

In the meantime we played magical stoves to cook dinner that night and then the four person group sent two people to one three person tent and two to the other for breakfast hot water the next morning.

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We had more misty weather gathering above in the morning when we woke up as we lazed around all morning with a 12 noon leaving time.  For the first time in a week, we would head to a hut which excited all of us and we wanted to have a hut party for Halloween.  According to Roger, it looks old and haunted…i.e. perfect.

A mere five kilometers down river we walked until we happened upon Top Hut which looked like a dilapidated old barn like structure with a tin roof, set farther back into the hill than was convenient to get water.  It excited us nonetheless and we moved in and sprawled out.  Packs exploded all over the ground outside of the hut as we began preparations for our party.  Instead of a potluck dinner, we decided to do potluck desserts.

Before we could start cooking and eating, Roger and Sean imposed a mandatory laundry rule since we would go straight from the mountaineering section to the backpacking section without a town switch and normal laundry.  Using almost all of our soap rations, we set to work washing clothes in anything we could find with steaming hot water since we had plenty of fuel leftover.

Roger realized he left his ice axe back at the other camp, so after he made sure we started laundry, he walked back to get it.  Luckily, it was only five kilometers.

That evening when we all gathered around the picnic table in the hut, Roger busted out speakers and ipod which we weren’t supposed to have and it overjoyed everyone.  However, it got a song by the killers stuck in my head for at least a week more.  We shared desserts and hung out while Sean and Roger made lattes for those who drank coffee.

Nothing too traumatic happened in that hut – no one fell off their bunks or anything.  We got ready and made to move back into the Cameron Valley through a pass only a few kilometers from where we entered to make a circle back to where we had begun twenty days previously.

Overjoyed by the remnants of a road for the first while, we walked on and up thanking the 4×4 track for making an easier path through the ankle twisting tussock grasses.  It even conveniently went up to the pass we looked at crossing on the map.  Leading us up in winding switchbacks, it dropped us off at a fence which the mapmakers were so kind as to even mark so we knew exactly where we were.

Weaving our way down, we found herd paths here and there making our knees thank us  for the long decent which we made down

Matagouri, surrounded by tussock grass.

to the trail we had followed into the Cameron Valley before.

Eventually, we made camp a little under a kilometer back from our pick up point because it was the best camping area, where the area by the pick up had a significantly higher amount of animal droppings scattered near the water.

We had the next day off because of paperwork and we needed to tie up the ends of the section.  It was a good thing because almost all of us were pretty much out of food.  That morning, between Ryan, Kyle and I we had the very last bits of oatmeal and semolina to eat with only a handful of popcorn for lunch.  The rest of the day, we tried desperately to fill up on tea until dinner of which we only had a bag of couscous and some garlic.  Roger and Sean ran out completely of food by lunch and Roger decided he was fasting and would not accept anymore food from anyone.  Sean borrowed some of our seconds so he could have dinner.

Closing out the evening, we had a campfire just like the beginning and the only two of the entire section and remembered everything we had done.

When the morning came around, we all wanted breakfast badly and it motivated us to move since the bus would bring road “brecky” as New Zealanders call it.  Getting there, we dropped stuff, gave Amy the program supervisor a hug, then asked where the food was.  She knew she wouldn’t get anywhere in a debrief with us unless she fed us, so she opened it all up and we dug in.

Then we began transitioning between sections.

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Our next adventure required a 3:30 a.m. snowpack check.  I became quite good at sleeping whenever possible and putting snow on my face to jerk myself awake after the past week.  Slugging ourselves into a sitting position and peering our the tent door still wrapped tightly in sleeping bags, we awaited Roger’s decision on how stable the snow would be for us.

He poked around for a few minutes and said to activate plan B.  I liked plan B.  It’s first step was curl back up and go to sleep for two more hours or so and meet up at 7:30 a.m.  We packed up a day pack and hiked up to the base of the glacier again.  This time, instead of fighting the snowpack, we joined it!

Slightly to the west, an avalanche had left a large pile of debris that we would use to practice unburying beacons.  From a glance, avalanche debris just looks like lots of uneven piles of snow, but once on it I found out how incredibly difficult it is to move over it and more so to dig through it.  Once the snow falls, it solidifies.

We split into two groups of four and I went with the first group to find them.  We went about forty feet off to the side and turned our backs while the other group hid three backpacks with beacons, one without and partially covered someone without a beacon.  Then Roger yelled and we tried to run back over and begin uncovering.  We tracked all the beacons well and found the partially buried person easily enough, but the backpack without the beacon took us longer than it should have.

The second group went to do the same exercise.  Instead of partially burying someone, we almost completely buried Kyle by giving him a large air bubble with a small hole to the surface and stuck one gloved hand out.  Totally like the movie “Carrie” but without the pig blood mess.

After we played significantly finding the beacons, we took a long snack break and gathered everything up and headed down just a bit more to a preselected spot.  Roger then had everyone grab a shovel and dig a large pit about six or seven feet deep while others prepared the ropes for crevasse rescue practice.  The person on the end got to run and jump into the pit while the others had to catch him self arresting and pull him back out.  On round two, I got to run and jump which entertained me greatly until my feet became incredibly cold.  It was the kind of cold that you need to tuck your feet up into the pits of your knees to regain feeling in them or put them on a stomach.

We soon headed back to camp and I rejuvenated my feet and had a hot drink.  That evening, Roger shared stories of former NOLS students that he had to deal with including a rather determined outlaw near Vegas which enthralled us while we ate dinner.

I took the next morning off while Roger took Jonah, James, and Kyle up to try a peak super early in the morning before the sun rose.  However, the sleep in was not as sweet as planned because they got caught in the incoming northwesterly and had to run down from the wind, arriving back at 9:15 a.m.  Heeding their wind warning, we packed up and headed back down to the previous campsite where we planned to meet back up with Sean, Haley, and Tracy for a night.  Descending, we had a bit more trouble than before crossing the larger river despite crossing high where less water should flow.  We did a sketchy little dance and pack toss number.  The storm came in slowly as we made our way down through periods of light misty rain.  It continued to press down upon us while we argued about where to put the tent again.  We scouted around for quite a bit and all came up with one we liked best.  The wind ended up determining our choice, mostly so we could set up the tent and relax.

While the storm threatened to hit, Ryan played Mr. Fix It and worked diligently to fix a few holes our tent had accumulated.  Once it was fixed, we played cards for awhile during Kyle’s nap and listened to the rain come and go.

Around 4 p.m. or so, Sean, Haley and Tracy made it back and we got out to help them set up their tent quickly since they were cold and tired.

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