Monday, May 27, 2013

Camping At Forty Below

They say you have to be a little crazy to live up here. They might just be right. This winter Travis and I had the brilliant idea to go camping. While you could probably argue it was not technically camping, I would think it counts because it was a wood stove heated, dry cabin, in the winter. We took an air mattress, cooking supplies, games, the first batch of home brewed beer, pretty much the normal camping stuff. We bought Roxi a new poofy red coat for the occasion in addition to her winter booties. Normally I criticize clothes wearing dogs (my mother’s dog in particular) but I feel in Alaska, it’s survival not fashion. While we had what we considered to be a lot of firewood, it got chilly the first night. Something in the negative thirties if I recall. I also was sure I heard something huge crawling around in the rafters or on the roof but I tend to be paranoid like that.

The next day we played a lot of risk by the candlelight. This was still when we had only four hours of daylight. We had made a run for firewood first thing in the morning (massive quantities of firewood) and once we had supplies, the cabin stayed pretty warm. Travis was in charge of escorting Roxi and I out to the outhouse in the dark and standing guard. Mainly because I was terrified I’d be attacked by a moose or a bear. And I was almost right. On one bathroom trip we did see two moose twenty feet or so from our cabin. That was Roxi’s first moose encounter and I think it blew her little mind. I don’t think she quite knew what to make of such beastly large creatures. And this is probably taking things too far, but I discovered they make outhouse seat material out of something magical. Even at forty below with the wind blowing, the seat was never cold. The next night it got pretty cold again, somewhere around the forty below point. And I heard creepy animal/imaginary noises all night long.

At that point we loaded up the wood stove to keep Roxi warm and ditched her for the hot springs. Hot springs in cold weather are an experience. Your hair freezes instantly and gets frosted over and sometimes your eyelids get stuck shut. But the water is worth the short, cold, icy walk outside. And there were a lot of tourists running around the resort in matching blue snowsuits.

Our third and final day was where things got intense. We discovered a secret captains logbook of sorts. Everyone who had stayed in the cabin previously had written down their experiences and camping tales. Much to my delight, my monstrous animal noise paranoia was proven to be actual animals. Apparently, the squirrel infestation is pretty extensive. Our fire supply dwindled at an intimidating pace while the temperature dropped for the night. And kept dropping. By the middle of the night we were both so cold that Travis had allowed Roxi into the sleeping bags to cuddle for warmth. She was very content to quietly huddle between me and Travis and proceeded to behave all night long. If you know Roxi you know how rare this good behavior is and you understand how cold we all were for her to be so desperate for warmth. Normally, she’d first insist on being at the foot of the bed for a half hour of licking feet because she LOVES feet. Then she would lock her knees and dig her claws into you until she got her space. If you tried to move her, she’d groan loudly and struggle until you gave up. The next morning our car started with extremely upset noises and nasty cold start exhaust so we let Alaska claim victory. We checked the weather reports once we got home. Negative forty-five. Totally camping and swim suit weather.

No comments:

Post a Comment