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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.

aziscohos lake

View from our campsite

dan downing

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 Kibbe