Below they are loading up their gear and checking the gas and oil on their Honda 4-wheelers.
Paul, Abigail, Deborah, Quentin, Joshua and Josh A. headed up the mountain. Even though it was very icy and difficult to follow at times, they had fun helping each other up the trail. As it started to get dark, they picked out a nice spot to camp.They set up camp while it was still light. Below Josh A. is collecting pine boughs for his bed. He must have done a good job because he was the only one to get a good hours sleep.They got a fire going very quickly and had fun boiling water to make hot chocolate and add to the instant meals they took along with them.
It was a very dark night. The stars didn't come out till early morning and it was almost a new moon so the sliver that showed in the early morning didn't cast much light. Paul had to use a flashlight to see what he was stirring even though he was sitting close to the fire. (The flash from the camera sure brightened things up!)
As the stars came out, the temperatures dropped. It had been warm so long we'd begun to believe that it would never get cold again. It did and it made the night miserable for the light traveling campers. It got down to 17 degrees at the house and they were a few thousand feet higher up the mountain, so I'm sure it was colder by a few degrees. They hugged the fire all night, trying not to melt their clothes as they tried to stay warm.Below Abigail is collecting fuel for the fire. They cut down every dead tree for 50 feet around their campsite. It kept them busy and a little bit warm as they waited for it to get light enough to travel. It was only a couple of weeks beyond the shortest day of the year so the night was very long. After they'd finished all the chores they needed to to get ready for the night, they sat down around the fire and looked at their watches and realized it wouldn't be light for sixteen more hours. Because it was so cold the time seemed to creep by. They would wait for seemingly hours and then look at their watches again and five minutes had gone by.
It finally turned light and they made their way down off the mountain. They called me from a lodge up the lake to let me know they were all well. A friend of ours caretakes the lodge every winter. They seem to end all of their expeditions at John's, drinking hot chocolate.
I'm sure they will look back at their trip with fondness in a few years and the temperature will probably drop with each telling. (Of course now we have this blog to refer back to.) But as of this writing, a few weeks after the trip, they still remember the cold too bitterly to think fondly of it. As I'm sitting here writing, I asked Joshua, the youngest to go at eight years old, if he enjoyed the trip. He had to think for a while and then he said, "not really." I asked him if he was glad he went, he thought again and replied "not really." Quentin chimed in and said that although parts of the trip were not fun, overall it was a good time. I'm sure it won't be long before Joshua forgets how the cold felt and he'll look at his grinning face in the fourth picture of this blog and think, "that was a fun time." By the way, he or anyone else, never complained. We never did get our moose:(