Monday, March 31, 2014

49 Degrees North, Ice Cave Campout

Every winter the young men in our congregation have their traditional winter camp out up at 49 degrees north. They spend all day building their snow shelters, camp, then ski the next morning. Naturally, I was not okay with the young women not being invited, so I pulled some strings to make that happen. All the girls, including myself, had never slept in a snow cave before. We were so scared, but really excited at the same time. We did a little winter camping seminar beforehand so the youth knew how to build their shelters and how to stay warm and dry the entire trip. Erik was kind enough to stay home with Tate so I could go. Neither of us wanted to miss this adventure so I was grateful he let me have this one. I think next year we will just bring Tate, she could handle it.

We spent the whole day building the snow caves. You wrap all your gear in tarps, then pile snow on top of it, and keep shoveling, and shoveling, until you have a huge pile of snow. Then you let it settle for a half hour, aka lunch break.  Then it is time to dig out the shelter, so you decide where you want the door, and start digging in. We used sleds and small shovels to move all the snow. I was so scared it was going to cave in the whole time, but these things are strong! When you reach your buried gear, you pull all that stuff out, and then you have a hole big enough to crawl inside and keep digging to make it a sleep-able size. Then just poke a few holes in it for air and build a wind break and you are good to go! Each cave slept 3-4 people. The beehives, mia-maids, laurals, and leaders build caves. The Young men built smaller caves that slept 1 to 3 each. The building process was my favorite part. You stay warm while you work and it was just so fun to build that cave out of nothing. Sis Davis and Sis Chesheski and I built a bomb cave!

Some of us were still building into the night, after the cave was finished you put in a lantern to generate some heat, which kind of forms a melty inside layer that later freezes and makes it rock solid. We ate some amazing warm chili and played mexican horse races, the roaring game, and "Who stole the Bishops Hay" around the fire. That night I was seriously so scared the cave would collapse on us. All the experienced men kept reassuring us they were solid but at night you could hear snow settling and the roof dripping. I was very warm in the shelter but slept poorly because I felt strange in that thing. But it was a good first experience and now I know they won't cave in, so next time we do this won't be so scary.

The next morning we had a giant breakfast and then the traditional cave wrecking ceremony commenced. We went around to each cave, and the kids who slept in it would jump on the roof until it caved in. Man were those things strong! The snow wall was only 5-8 inches, but the roof could hold several adults jumping before they caved in!

The priests built this massive cave. They had the TNT letters for their names, Tyler, Nathan, and Trevor, they didn't even catch the irony that TNT also means dynamite and that their door looked like a min shaft. Silly boys. . . After the wrecking ceremony some kids went home but most of them stayed to ski. It was only $4 to ski at 49 if you brought two cans of food for the food drive they were having. This trip so was fun! It is going to become a new tradition for our youth.

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