Happy New Year!
Despite everyone going to bed early, I was awoken at midnight from ghostly cheers coming across the lake from crews out on the ice and the opposite shore. I give a yell and a woo before rolling over and going back to sleep for a few more hours.
Nature calls, as she does frequently at night on this trip due to the enhanced focus on staying hydrated. I have my trusty spaghetti sauce bottle along, but because we went to bed so early I have to crawl out of bed to run into the woods at least once this night because the bottle is full. I take the opportunity to look at the stars some, but my eyes are still pretty blurry with sleep and so it’s hard to see anything beyond the incredible number of points of light that we don’t see at home. It would be amazing to be able to travel back in time to when ambient light pollution wasn’t really a thing. People must have stared at the sky at night with such awe and wonder at what they saw – or did they even understand just what it was they were looking at?? I stare at the stars as I waver between sleep and awake as the sky slowly lightens up. Before dawn, our interpreter is giving us our usual warm pouch of apple cider as a wake-up and post-sleep checkin gift.
I get dressed and out of my bag. It’s cold this morning! The air has a crispness to it that we haven’t had until this point in the trip. Later we will find out that the official thermometer at base fell to -1 overnight, and I think it may have been a couple degrees lower at our campsite. I have a problem this morning – All the frost that is still between the layers of my parka has knocked loose and is crunchy down in the waist hem and cuffs. I put it on anyhow, because this is the kind of morning when you put on all your clothes, at least for a little bit. I walk around our campsite, checking in with my other Scouts and adults. I pause for a few moments to take in the new year’s sunrise.
Back down in camp, Brian has bad news – his blood sugar is still low despite snacking a lot in the overnight hours. Our hand is forced – we’re going back to base as a group. Medical’s condition on his going back out was no further reoccurrences of low sugars. Ultimately, Brian’s body just isn’t capable of processing what he’s taking in fast enough to keep up with the demands of trying to stave off hypothermia. We share the news with the rest of our crew, and we pack up and trek back to base.
Now, here’s where everything works out to our favor – the cabin we stayed in our first night on base is ours for the entirety of the trip. I hang up my jacket inside the warm cabin and it will drip for the next 36 hours. Our group now shifts into “Easy Mode” and we try cross country skiing. Most everyone didn’t do so well with skiing, some never got out of base with their skis on while others got maybe 1/4 mile out of camp before giving up. Here’s some photos of the hilarity which ensued –
In the end we all turn around. Back at camp we turn in our skis and head over to the broomball court instead. Broomball is a mix of hockey and polo. Usually played on a frozen lake or other snowy surface. We have a ball playing against a girl crew that’s also on base. I swap in and out to take photos and join in the fun.
Our interpreter is basically in chef mode now, as he doesn’t have much to guide us in doing and instead just needs to heat water for our meals. We all get warm showers that night and are treated to an impromptu evening program by the base staff where several dress up as French Canadian Voyageurs and regale us with songs. One female staffer with an absolutely incredible voice shares a rendition of Loch Lomond with the group.