February 19, 2014:
February 19th, today is my fathers birthday. Fortunately I was able to give him my best wishes a few days ago while in transit from Maine but it sure would be nice to spend time with him, share some of the day or maybe a few laughs. Many qualities in my father that I try to emulate, he'll always be a hero to me. Lots to celebrate when I return, sending warm thoughts your way. I love you Dad, Happy birthday.
Started my day off with a hot bowl of oats, dried cranberries, whole powdered milk and butter. One of the best oatmeal breakfasts I've had on trail and I've been on many trails, I think it was the "whole" powdered milk that really tied it together. We've allotted roughly 4,000 calories each day per person, giving ourselves many options and combinations to be creative with. A tasty, hot meal can make or break an exhausting day. In these conditions, our furnace is constantly running on high, even while sleeping our bodies will expend energy heating each breath we take in.
Dried fruits: Bananas, apples, strawberries, cranberries, raisins, apricots and pineapple.
Dried veggies: Green beans, sweet corn, broccoli, parsnips, carrots, green peppers, peas, onions, potatoes and squash.
Meats: Venison jerky, eye-round jerky, pepperoni links and bacon.
Other: Pasta, rice, lentils, cheese, nuts, fruit cake, cookie product, oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, powders eggs, powdered milk, 1/2lb butter per day, tea, coffee, coco, brownie mix and 11 pounds of chocolate..
Our camp consists of two canvas "snowtrekker" tents and two steal box stoves, all weighing roughly 20lbs a piece. After breakfast, camp was then disassembled and packed onto our Black River Sleds. I'm carrying both tents, a 25lb box of food and personal gear (axe, saw, sleeping system, clothes, miscellaneous items.) I like my gear to be squared away, organized, a tight sled, cinched down and wrapped up like a burrito. Attention to detail and taking pride in the smallest things is an acquired skill drilled into me from my years in the Marine Corp. which has proven to be very beneficial to my later years. Failure to pay attention could come at great cost in a place like this.
It was oddly warm today at 20 degrees as we hiked 5 miles West on Lake Saganaga. Warm weather is unwelcome on an expedition such as this, too warm means snow melt, getting wet, harder pulling, sweating and then freezing as the sun goes down. Right around 5 degrees or less is ideal. Cold, dry air means exactly that, you're cold but dry (that's what layers are for.) I have no doubt the weather is soon to show us some extremes... Over the course of the day I quickly realized my choice of snowshoes was going to be a huge burden on me. The only one among the group with "modern" snowshoes, size 930 and fitting for me on the sizing scale but I do believe that is the recommendation for backyard, look at me, packed trail recreation. We are not out here for recreation, packing our own trail through 3-4 feet of snow and looking to cover some wild terrain over many miles, this is going to be quite the obstacle for me. The other fellas, using a traditional style snowshoe (2x the size of my bear paws) float much higher on the snow pack making the exertion of energy far less than mine. There is not nearly enough float in each of my steps causing me to sink way too deep when breaking trail and even breaking my own trail when walking in their trail.. Ahh, this is frustrating, exhausting and a bit disappointing for day two. I'm a leader by nature but there is no leading this pack when I can't contribute to packing a trail for any measurable distance. No sense in getting too wrapped up on the delema because there is nothing I can do about the situation besides make the best of it. Looks like I'll have to harness my inner Marine and suck it up. I've pushed myself and been pushed through some pretty tough times, definitely not going to let a little extra hard work get me down. It's going to be a physical/mental challenge at its best and I love challenging myself, so this should keep things interesting. Here's a good comparison photo of one of my shoes to Pauls traditional---
Before nightfall we constructed our home for the second night, this time just off the shore of "Long Island" on Saganaga. I'm really looking forward to some restful sleep upon my snow bed...