The lessons of the tired and cold

As we set out from the car, it occurred to me that I should probably have gloves on. But a mile seems like such a short distance, so I pressed on suppressing the pain of the cold, which had set in nearly instantly upon donning my pack. Within half a mile I had to stop and dig out my choppers. I simply could not bear the pain any more. My foolish mistake became a lesson learned. They usually do You just have to listen.
When we finally made the cabin we were a little more worn out than we were expecting, just a short mile seems long when you’re wearing winter gear and pulling a sled full of tools. We did not, however waste much time. We set about finding a spot to build camp and start shelter construction within only a matter of minutes, day was dragging on and shelter is a make it or break it factor on a Minnesota night. Camp was easy to find, a small clearing set atop a short rise in the otherwise fairly low ground, enough space for a camp and a natural made fire pit, from an I sent flanked by 2 downed trees.
The task of harvesting debris hut frames was a simple one, in a forest over run by aspen you are surrounded by dead fall, standing dead, and small trees that do more damage than good to the forest, within an hour we had 2 debris huts fairly well framed in, which brought us to the problem of insulation, normally you gather up a butt load of fallen leaves, ferns, and pine boughs. Unfortunately the leaves and ferns were frozen to the ground and there weren’t any pine trees to be had. We trekked to the field to search for grass, but it was mostly gone or frozen into the ground. I thought to head to the swamp for cattails, but on the way we happened across a small field of 6′ high grass! Perfect! Grass is hollow, so
It holds in body heat. And at 6′ in height it shouldn’t take too much to cover our shelters. Now, how does one haul enough grass to cover 2 debris hits 1/2 a mile each way with only 1 sled, at 2 pm, when the sun goes down at 4? The answer is……..you don’t. We tried our darnedest. We worked like mad until it was too dark to continue , but we could not gather enough to creat the 2-3′ thick walls that a debris hit needs to afford the proper amount of insulation. We slept out anyway, but thank god for winter sleeping bags. It was pretty uncomfortable night, but we stayed in the name of training and growing our skill set, we suffered through the night to become better teachers.
The lesson, if your debris material is a mile away, move your camp. It is easier to relocate camp
Than it is to haul load after load of debris, also get moving early, in an emergency, you do not have time to waste. And finally, sometimes your better staying up at night huddled around a nice fire than sleeping in a substandard shelter.
Thanks for reading
Blake

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