Expect To Survive

A winter camping trip provided more confidence than the energy it took build a campsite, make dinner, complete avalanche training lessons, dig for buried beacons, and test snowpack conditions.

A winter camping trip provided more confidence than the energy it took build a campsite, make dinner, complete avalanche training lessons, dig for buried beacons, and test snowpack conditions.

I committed to the Explore Program Winter Intro before really knowing the details. If I had known that it was a backpacking, snowshoeing, avalanche training, dig-a-campsite-out-of-a-snow-covered-mountain overnight adventure, I never would have signed up.

In Southern California, where I grew up, it’s only snowed once. And although I have vacationed in snow country, I never had camped in it. In addition, I had never backpacked, never worn snowshoes, and didn’t own any of the gear necessary for such endeavors. Much to my relief, a small army of girlfriends made sure I was prepared with the proper gear efficiently packed and had appropriate clothing.

As departure day neared, I was really nervous, and seriously doubted I could take on this challenge.

Getting Acquainted

The leader Abby prepped her team of Explore students to expect my company, and when we arrived, she encouraged us to take the adventure one step at a time. As we were sitting around the lodge waiting for more gear, Wesley matter-of-factly asked if I was going to throw up. I wasn’t, but I certainly didn’t feel confident or excited. When the rest of the gear arrived, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to carry my bulging pack and the snowshoes, ski poles, shovels, and avalanche beacons. We loaded all of the equipment into the van and hit the road.

Our hike was to start more than an hour away at Lookout Pass. After pulling off the freeway, unloading the gear, loading up the packs, and strapping on snowshoes, we took off. I noticed there were no trail markers, only a road. I must have looked distressed because my fellow Green Team members kept asking me if I was OK. Eventually, I got into a rhythm and “de-layered” to avoid sweating. I knew sweating was not a good thing, but at the same time, I was apprehensive about removing too many layers. Because it was snowing, taking clothing off seemed counterintuitive.

At one point, Nathan—a fellow staff member and instructor paired with our team—wanted us to “break trail.” Just snowshoe through the fresh powder that goes up to one’s hips if not on snowshoes? Yikes!

For the most part, the “break trail” adventure wasn’t too bad because I was able to follow in someone else’s footsteps. Eventually, we stopped, and Nathan pointed up the hill and said we were returning to the road. Up this nearly vertical hill? It wasn’t nearly vertical, but for Miss Southern California, it might as well have been. I only got up the hill because Abby and Wesley—for all practical purposes—pulled

Surviving a night outdoors called for a celebration--with a Snickers bar!

Surviving a night outdoors called for a celebration–with a Snickers bar!

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Climbing & Traversing
  2. The Next Step
  3. Hi-Ho Silver…
  4. Back to Nature
  5. On The Ball Year-Round
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers