February Adventure

Today’s post comes from cynthiainmahtowa.

The First of February 2018 was a beautiful, sunny, crispy -10 F day. There was enough snow to snowshoe and I hadn’t been in the woods since I couldn’t remember when…years before my hip surgery. It was a Thursday, and Sunday afternoon our book club was meeting at my house to discuss “A River Runs Through It” by Norman McLean. As our group often does off- book things like skiing, hiking, canoeing, I thought it would be fun for people to ski or snowshoe down the Moose Horn River that meanders through my land.

But first to check it out.  Friend Daina and her Corgi, Jack, were willing to go through the woods, to the marsh and over the river with me. When we got to the marsh, however, Daina was afraid Jack would go through the ice and not be able to get out so she decided to take him home. I decided to travel on.

When I got to the river, I ventured on to the ice for about half a dozen steps when the ice gave out under me.  Suddenly, I was up to my armpits in ice-cold water. I don’t know how deep it was, my metal and rubber snowshoes wouldn’t let me get my feet under me.  Alas, I thought, “This is how I die.”

Though somehow I must not have believed that because I was hanging on to my Icelandic wool hat that I love and was NOT going to let it go! After a brief struggle, I floated myself over to the side of the river where there appeared to be a solid snow covered something. When I got to the embankment I saw a block of ice below me that I managed to get my snowshoes on.  With my one pole (I had hiking poles with me) I managed to pull myself back onto the ice, get standing up, pick up my other pole that I had left on top of the ice and headed back home.

Fortunately, I had on my polyester down parka and nylon ski pants. So I was not weighted down with water-soaked clothing. The worst was the water in my boots. I figured if I kept moving as fast as I could, I wouldn’t succumb to hypothermia. I was about 15 minutes through the woods and up the pasture from the house. At the power easement I considered going back on the road so someone would see me, but it was farther and open and the wind was bitter.

With some difficulty I got myself over the wire fencing and into the pasture. Halfway to the house, I saw Daina coming down to meet me. She, being brilliant in emergencies – and having experienced her husband’s hypothermia a few years ago – took over. She helped me into the house, out of my Sorel-like boots of man-made materials with frozen laces, my wet clothes and into the shower…then into bed with three or four layers of blankets, mugs of hot tea, chicken soup and liquid jello.

I never shivered, though in bed it felt like my deep core wanted to shake. But the adrenalin was coursing through my body the rest of the day and I was fully warmed up in time to feed my animals that evening…and before the day was over I cleaned and re-organized my cupboard of mugs.

I don’t know what the experience has done to my psyche, but looking back there seems to be a sense of appreciation and direction and confidence and generosity that I didn’t have before.

And when I got kicked in the thigh by Derby Horse the following Friday, the resulting hematoma didn’t seem like much of a big deal.

What was your scariest “adventure”?

48 thoughts on “February Adventure”

  1. That’s a terrible experience Cynthia, but a great story!

    When I could hunt and fish I routinely took chances that would shock people with normal caution. I’ve boated on Lake Superior at times when no sane person would have taken the risk. I’ve canoed violent rapids where I had no business going. I’ve waded steelhead rivers filled with icy meltwater. A foolish friend talked me into fishing Lake Michigan in his motorized canoe, and I shudder at the memory now. An Ontario policeman once told me he’d spent two days retrieving the body of a fisherman who took risks, and he was unhappy about the prospect of dragging the water for my body.

    The closest I came to paying the ultimate price was when I took an old dog across a winter marsh. The two of us narrowly missed dying when hypothermia caused us to cramp up in waist-deep ice water. I’ve written the story up and have mentioned it here as well. In spite of wretched judgment I cheated death several times. Some friends died doing things I got away with doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. wow, PHS! I hope for only one such experience…though your stories reminded me of being in an overloaded kayak on Yellowstone Lake in a snowy wind storm…water was too close to the gunwales for my comfort. Then leaving our campsite for a couple days, bear invasion and park rangers worried….and still here to tell the tale, me and you!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I was on a canoe trip with dad, uncle, and dad’s friend on the Missouri River in the Upper Missouri River Breaks area (translation: the REAL middle of nowhere). First day canoeing was fine. Camped for the night on the shoreline, a wide grassy floodplain in a canyon. Began to storm after dinner. Went inside tents at dark, tried to sleep, wind came up, blew at least 50+ mph, torrential rain, and thunder and lightning non-stop from 10 pm to 4 am! I kid you not. Six straight hours of lightning strikes at least one per MINUTE. The canyon amplified the thunder to twice its normal volume. Our aluminum tent poles caved in from the wind, so the tents collapsed and we got soaked. Sat up all night trying to stay warm and pray we wouldn’t get incinerated. My uncle had a small tree branch that broke and fell on his tent. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt.

    Other than coming over the crest of the steepest hill on a roller coaster ride, that was the only time I really, truly believed I was going to die.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Chris, my best outdoor buddy is a doctor. He once aided a family of campers that survived a lightning strike on their tent in the BWCA. They had actually pitched their tent away from trees. Because of the rock underlying everything, trees can’t sink deep roots. Lightning struck a pine, came down the trunk and then traveled several feet through a root structure before exploding into the tent from below. The victim had coins in his jeans pockets, and after the strike they were welded together.

      That’s risky country in any lightning storm.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. No kidding. I’m often amazed that I’ve survived some “foolish” encounters with Mother Nature. I was also “fortunate” to be in the BWCA during the Sept. 2013(?) torrential downpour that flooded Duluth, washed out many sections of US 61, and actually forced I-35 to close south of Carlton because the FREEWAY was flooded! That’s something I’d never seen before. 🙂 PS- I bailed halfway through the trip because I would have never been able to start a fire to get dry.

        Chris

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  3. Oh my, Cynthia! What a scary and miserable”adventure.” So glad Daina came back for you, and that you had the appropriate gear. Wet and cold is a dangerous combination; congratulations on your survival, your excellent fitness level, and your remarkable clear thinking in a crisis!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. You must be in terrific shape, even after hip surgery! I am too wimpy a person to take such risks. I am sure my father had more near misses during his fishing trips on Lake of the Woods and on the Missouri River near Chamberlain, SD than he ever told my mom about. My mom was very anxious, and would never even let me make snow tunnels in big snow piles for fear I’d be crushed or would suffocate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So, daughter in Tacoma tells me that they had 3 inches of snow and everything is shut down and cancelled. We had 6 inches of snow and the wind chill is -35 and we still have school and work. I know that terrain is different out there, but it hardly seems fair!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Daughter in Seattle texted me yesterday: “It’s ‘snowing’ here and everyone is freaking out. LOL. It’s not even sticking to the sidewalk.”

      Maybe it started sticking after she texted me. It is quite amusing to her to see how people there react to snow.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, Cynthia, that was quite the adventure. Thank goodness you managed to get out of the water and your friend was there to help you get warm.

    I can’t think of anything that was very scary. I’ve had my share of tramping around the woods by myself but maybe because of my innate cautiousness, haven’t had any hair raising adventures.

    I guess my health “adventures” have been the scariest; the upcoming treatment and stem cell transplant are scary. I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it through all that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I was going to say, ljb, that most photographers have more sense than hunters or fishermen about taking chances. Then I remembered the couple from India who just died falling 800 feet from a cliff edge. Authorities seem to think they were setting up a selfie photo with a thrilling backdrop.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Maybe photographers are more cautious because they don’t want to smash or drown their photo equipment. Of course the whole selfie thing has the potential to counteract that tendency.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. You’ll have no choice, ljb, and I have no doubt whatsoever you’ll find whatever fortitude you need. One foot in front of the other until you’re through. Deep breaths.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. The winter I lived in Port Angeles it also snowed, but I don’t remember anyone freaking out. We also had had aftershocks from the Alaskan earthquake that year. But mostly it was foggy, cloudy and drizzly….like it was yesterday and this morning in Mahtowa….but with lots of white.

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  8. Wow Cynthia! I appreciate you saying your “sense of appreciation and direction and confidence and generosity” has been heightened! That’s pretty cool.

    I too have done more dumb things than I can remember and I’m darn lucky to still survive.
    Sticking my leg in the feedbunk auger when I was 14 wouldn’t have necessarily killed me, but I’m lucky I still have the leg.
    One time I pulled the pin out of the wing of a piece of machinery expecting the hydraulic cylinder to hold it up. But it didn’t and it knocked me to the ground and I sure hurt for a few days but I’m lucky it wasn’t worse.
    Even the car accident I had back in December could have been worse.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I haven’t seen figures recently, Ben, but data on people getting injured or killed while doing their work consistently rank farming one of the riskiest occupations. My farmer/rancher friend Larry is missing most of his right ear. Based on stories he told, I initially assumed it was bitten off in a bar fight, but the truth is the ear was snatched off by some kind of machinery (cultivator?).

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      1. Yep,We can get into all sorts of trouble.
        My dad’s left thumb was kind of all ‘mush’ and he said it was from being squished between the gears of a corn binder.

        My brother, when he was about 16, was pulled off the tractor by his long jacket getting caught on the rear tire. (Back before tractors had cabs). The ground was soft and while the rear tire went right across his chest, since he had just worked the ground it was soft (and he was skinny) and it just pushed him down in the dirt. Then he was able to roll out of the way before the plow went over him.
        Pretty smart thinking.
        Back at home we were painting the new house and people saw the tractor going around in circles and him chasing it.
        Mom says the best part was taking him to the doc and everyone being amazed at the tire track right across his chest but no injuries.

        I lost an uncle when a tractor rolled over on him.
        A neighbor died when he got his arm cut off and he bled to death before getting back to the house.
        A neighbor kid was caught in a flash fire; not sure what caused that. He’s doing well now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I almost flipped a tractor when as a twelve year old I let the clutch out too quickly…on a hill pulling a loaded hay wagon. My uncle never let me drive again. Farming is not for the faint of heart.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I can’t think of anything I’ve done that involved physical risk to life and limb, except for the time I barely missed getting mowed down by a semi as I started up from a traffic light at the highway.

    I did share this on FB a while back, which won’t do you any good NOW, Cynthia, but maybe someone else…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, I was so lucky the ice held when I pulled my way out of the water with my trekking pole because I stood up fairly soon. Thanks for posting this, but I couldn’t breathe as I watched it. And I’m staying off the river or any kind of frozen water. Forever the rest of my life.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah, a good thing you had the poles. I have a monopod for my camera that doubles as a walking stick. More than once it’s made it possible for me to get up a steep river bank that I couldn’t have gotten up without the “stick.”

        Liked by 3 people

  10. I remember a canoe trip in the Boundary waters when I was 16. We had just left from the Bible camp in our canoes (my first time in a canoe, by the way), and it started blowing and raining and storming, and we had to keep paddling until we got to our first portage. My mother instilled in me a great fear of water and drowning and distrust of boats, and everything she ever said about one’s inevitable demise in a boat came back as I was struggling to keep going and afloat. That was the only rain we had the whole trip. It was in August, and when we got back home we found out that Richard Nixon had resigned.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can feel the sheer terror of that experience in my bones, Cynthia. So glad you were able to get to safety. I’m also glad you resolved to stay off frozen rivers or even lakes.

    As a kid I skated on a small local lake, and during the occasional winter when it got extremely cold, even on the sound. The former was pretty safe as the lake was small and shallow, and, of course, there were always a bunch of us there. But on the sound, where the ice got thinner the further out you went, the water was deeper; that could be pretty tricky. We learned to gauge the thickness of the ice by the sound it made when you skated. You could clearly hear it cracking and pinging under your skates as it got thinner.

    Here’s an interesting video that gives you a really good idea of the sounds of skating on thin ice. My skates were not this fancy, though:

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I don’t think I’m overly cautious but I haven’t had that many scary experiences. I think the worst actually had to do with my daughter. When she was about four we were out in the yard and I had been going after the dandelions with one of those pronged tools. Child came over and told me I had missed one and took the tool off with her. Just a few seconds later, she came back and she had her hand over one of her eyes. And there was blood. In the fastest flash of a second, I imagined the worst and then imagined her being blinded for life and then imagined myself in jail for being a horrible parent. What kind of mother lets her daughter go off in the yard with a sharp implement? Moving her bloody hand away from her eye was probably the most frightening thing I have ever done. Good news is that she didn’t hit her eye; the cut was right along her eyebrow and it took 2 little stiches to fix it up. These days you can’t even see the little scar.

    Great story Cynthia!!

    Like

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