Thursday, January 31, 2013

NHVSP Update 3

Expedition food pack-out
Max overseeing pack-out

 Telemarking at Granite Gorge

Brita pulling logs past the girls lodge
This week our semester group began learning a new fun skill: how to manage our skis going downhill! It took a bit of practice to begin mastering this challenge, but by the end of the week we were enjoying it greatly, and now we’re eagerly awaiting our next opportunity to practice our new skill. We kept working on lots of other projects as well, trying to get fully prepared to leave on the expedition.

Lotte has been sewing herself a raccoon-skin cap for the trip, and we have all sewn protective mitten shells and stuff sacks (small tan drawstring bags) for the trail.

The men moved into a better-insulated shelter, during our recent cold snap, and so they are a lot warmer now.

We saunaed yesterday and all got clean and shiny for the new week, and we ate sixteen delicious pizzas (and learned how to make them!) in exchange for community service at the Orchard Hill community and school. We made the pizzas in Orchard Hill Breadworks’ Spanish Llopis oven, which replaced the previous cobb and brick ovens they used. Using those ovens, the baker, Noah, would get about two hundred loaves with about fourteen hours of work in each baking cycle. Using the Llopis, he can produce about seven to nine hundred loaves with about six to eight hours of work per cycle, representing a vast increase in productive capacity. Inspired by this, we have been exploring human energy efficiency within our own community.

We continued studying tracking and naturalist skills in the Naturalist Blocks. We have eaten a lot of kasha, which for us is boiled Russian buckwheat — very delicious!

We have seen maps of the route we will take, and are creating lists of all the items we need to take on the trip — so many, and yet so few! Preparations are going smoothly, and we’re all continuing to bond as a team.

Journals from the week


“Woodchopper’s Euphoria”

The whistling axe,
The snapping crack,
My arms revived,
Blood pumps
Through my veins,
Even expended,
My energy is vast
And glowing
Like the rising sun
Life pours through
My body,
And I welcome the morning
With a heart
Full of joy.


Moving to the new lodge has been really nice. It’s been warm and it’s much cozier than the old one. Waking up and not seeing my breath is an incredible moment.


Today has not been as magical as some days. Some days sparkle, like drops of water on a spider’s web in the sun. Today only had a few fragmented moments like that. This morning, going up the boardwalk to farm chores, the sun shone on the frost on the boards, and those gleaming jewels were the morning’s first sparkle. While I greeted the day, I noticed the elegance and grace of the twigs of the bush growing around and encircling the rock upon which I sat, and knowing and becoming part of the bush was another sparkling moment. But most of the day for me was in shadows. Now as I write these words I am holding the knife I made and I know that she will be with me and care for me, and that knowledge gives me strength. I will be alive, and I too will become strong, and kind, and graceful, and supporting. The ripples on her handle speak in echoes to me through the years to come.


“coon skin cap”

raccoon hide
once a living animal
possibly even happy
I now have your skin
I am eternally grateful
and will love you forever
I will not pretend you are alive
or play with your skin
as a grim puppet
but wear you as a fashionable hat
so much better.


 My boots crunch through the snow’s crust to the white powder underneath. I lift my hand to shield my eyes from a pine bow released from its tree by our teacher Hans. He abruptly stops and bends down on one knee. When I look to see what has caught his attention, I notice cat-like tracks in the snow. This animal must have weighed considerably less than I, for he did not break through the thin crust over the snow, but only left light, shallow impressions. The first things I look for are how long the animal could have been and whether there are any claw marks in the tracks. The tracks are directly registered, meaning the creature stepped in each track twice. My first thought goes to a fox, but there are no claw marks, and the tracks are not in a line, as is typical for a fox. The body length seems a bit short for a fox, as well. As we followed the track, I continue to imagine a cat-like creature. Now, further along, I see these bounding tracks, hinting at something in the weasel family…

Headlamp haircuts with Emily

Thanks to Angus, Max, Rosa, Noah, and Lotte to their lovely submissions to this week’s update!

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