This weekend, I went with 3 other friends on an adventure: winter camping and cross country skiing in the Rangeley Lakes area. This was to be a new experience for me, and I was, in a sense, the trip leader. It was my crazy idea, and I did most of the planning. They simply came along to indulge my crazy sense of adventure. Camping is one of my favorite things; however, I have never experienced it like I did this weekend. I’ve winter camped in Pennsylvania in late February/early March, but boy is that nothing like winter camping in Maine in the middle of January.
Skiing in such a wide open area, in which it was so cold definitely opened my eyes to everything that we had been learning about it class. I started by thinking about the Mammalian Diving Reflex, and what would happen in the unlikely event that the ice would break and one of us went careening into the cold water. That then got me thinking about how you don’t have to be in cold water for your body to do such things. When it is so cold outside I found that the first places I lost heat were my fingers and toes, the extremities. Followed almost immediately by my ears and nose. Consistently, though, my core was quite warm.
After we were finished skiing, we had to make dinner and get ready for bed. I had planned our meal based greatly upon the many things that we have talked about in class. We had Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs and peas, and it was quite the satisfying dinner. It had carbohydrates for energy; protein for the muscles and peas to provide vitamins, as well as fats from the cheese. And the warmth of the food was very important in helping to stabilize our body heat.
Speaking of body heat, when we were in our tent, we were using pocket hand warmers to help heat our fingers and toes, which were quite frozen, and I found that when I placed the warmth on my stomach or chest the heat got distributed out through my body so much better than when it was placed on my toes, head or fingers. I would assume that this is due to the fact that the blood travels through my core to reach the rest of my extremities, and so the blood was warmed as it passed through the heat.
Another thing I noticed while camping was how much more my body had to work to do the little things in the cold. I found that I got tired skiing much more quickly than I might have doing other activities in warmer weather such as running or hiking. This is probably due to the fact that my body was working so hard to keep myself warm.
All in all, it was an incredible weekend. The temperatures dropped to -10, but we had an amazing time, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. And, I must say, everything I have learned in this class has greatly paid off!