They say it has been a mild winter here so far. I wouldn’t know since I have never lived in a place that actually has what most people think of as the winter season. Yes there is quite a difference between living in Los Angeles and New Jersey, but that doesn’t stop me from doing crazy things like wearing shorts during winter. I heard stories about people racing to the stores for this impending snowpocalypse of doom (which ended up not being much). The reports said stock up on food for 5-7 days. Well I didn’t. The only thing I bothered to do to prepare was buy a pound of my favorite coffee grinds (Crispy Hippie) from Small World Coffee and get another 8 books out of the library on top of the 8 or so I already had. I am sure some blizzards are bad. But while this is my first real winter, it is not my first blizzard. Yes I have been in a blizzard. One that was in conditions much worse.
In undergrad I had the joy of taking quite a few classes that were not entirely academically oriented. One of these was winter mountaineering. We spent approximately 3 classes talking about avalanches and watching videos about what to do if an avalanche happens. The advice was as follows
1. Swim with the avalanche off to the side (if possible)
2. As soon as the avalanche stops, exhale as hard as you can and punch the snow in the direction you thing is up.
3. Be at peace with the fact that you will probably die. (comforting right)
Then we went on a three-day winter mountaineering trip. We trekked along the side of a mountain, built snow caves to sleep in, and examined the mountain for avalanche prediction. All of my socks got wet within the first day. This makes it difficult to stay warm in freezing conditions. Then I got food/water poisoning. Then a blizzard came.
Let’s just say whenever you have to heave or something else unpleasant while sick, digging your snowshoes out of a foot of snow, and running 400 feet away from camp in the middle of the night in the middle of a blizzard, and digging a hole is…. an interesting experience. Three days of virtually no heat, no food, and well nothing (except for this fire, which we had to put out when we went to bed).
Despite the slight setbacks, this trip was tons of fun. I mean I built a snow cave and slept in it. I also started an avalanche and got to learn how to use a pickax to climb back up the mountain after falling 40 or so feet. Apparently dancing on the side of a mountain that has conditions desirable for avalanches is not the greatest idea.
However, it is from this experience that I view all my winter experiences. While the snow was piling up, I was sitting in the kitchen wearing two pairs of socks, sipping on hot coffee, cookies baking in the oven, and a stack of delightful books to read.