Aziscohos Lake 1997
The sun finally rose, adding just enough warmth to the
tent I was sharing with Mark Q to allow us both to fall asleep. In
comfort. Unbeknownst to the other, we had both been up most of the
night struggling to stay warm in our loftless sleeping bags. I'm not
sure how cold it got, I do know that whatever water we had froze.
It seemed only moments after I'd dozed off that the sound of pebbles
pinged off our thin walls. Dan was up and that meant we were
going to be up too.
Dan sleeps like Mark Schreiber. When heads hit the pillow, the lights
are definitely out. I sleep like that at home, but not in the woods and
certainly not the first night, and especially not if I'm battling to
keep my core temperature above corpse level. Mark, fidgeting next to
me, but suffering like any real man, in silence, spent hours debating
walking back to his jeep, turning the engine on, and sleeping there.
Why he didn't I don't know. I would have followed.
Like an aluminum tin molds Jell-O, this experience shaped all our future
responses to cold weather camping. First, we embellished this night
with stories about how I shared his sleeping bag to stay warm. And,
those skimpy sleeping bags were left for summer weather. I brought two
the next year, and after that, a brand new one called, appropriately-the
Red Head. It was given to me by all the guys as a birthday present.
We also made use of those stones that ring our campfire. From that night
on we wouldn't leave the fire without a hot stone wrapped snugly in
a towel, which we would then place strategically in our sleeping bags.
During our Lobster Lake trip in 1999, Mark and I both burnt holes through
towels with overzealously heated rocks. The charred fabric, only discovered
the following morning, made me wonder why the whole tent didn't burn
down. We wouldn't have minded. Anything for warmth.
Mart Ojamaa has been camping at Aziscohos for years. Using his impeccable
map, enticed by photos very similar to the ones below, we easily found
our way. This was a playful site, complete with an old rope swing that
I used only after Dan swung out over the water. It was somewhat difficult
to mount, with the swinger standing on a series of roots protruding
from the hillside, while a man below handed him the swing. The first
time Mark Queijo handed it up to me, I held on only briefly, then let
it slip bonking him on the forehead. It reminded me of working in the
basement of the Farr Academy with Adam when I accidentally dropped a
2x4 on his head. Made the same sound.
View from our campsite
Dan trusting an old rope swing, while I watch. Later that
night I'll drop it
right on Mark Queijo''s face.
Mark Queijo, Dan Downing, Mike Miller and Adam