Instead of the meeting at the Bronxville Church, we met at the Layton’s home only a block away. We drove for hours in freezing temperatures the entire ride to Ookpik. Arriving late at night, it was far below what we expected. The wind felt like it would never cease blowing, but the warm cabin filled with other troops helped us think we could actually survive.
The Camp Director gave us a PowerPoint lecture on ‘Surviving Ookpik’. It featured helpful advice from making your Quinzee (snow shelter) to your basic first aid. They even offered gear for those who came unprepared for the night like I was. There was a small fee that I wish I paid for. We spent the first night in a cold cabin then awoke to an amazingly cooked breakfast. It was filled with warm eggs, bacon, even cake and hot chocolate. I said to myself “This trip is easier than I thought”.
The Moment of Truth has arrived. We received lunch bags for tonight and for the morning. The bags were full of things I would never eat on a daily basis. Everything from Pop Tarts, to Ramen, to Jell-O. Before we could have our ‘food’, we had to make our snow shelters. To make them, you must have a pile of snow, wait a few hours, then dig a big hole to fit us both. Our guide bought shovels that eventually ran out so my tent mate Xavier and I invented a useful tool for shoveling snow. The “Snowshoevil”. We took some leftover shovelheads and attached them to the end of our snowshoes. Finally, we began to make progress, but not enough. There were two shelters that had to be made were Tommy and Kenny’s and Xavier and mine. Everyone in the troop contributed to our shelters. First ours, then Tommy and Kenny’s. After a great lunch, we dug a hole into our pile or pile of snow. With the help of Mr. Layton, we finished our shelter. We unpacked our ground tarps and sleeping bags to prepare for the night. Xavier’s dad built a small wall to keep crosswinds from coming into our door and poked small holes on the top and the two sides to allow us to breathe. It soon became night and the temperature dropped slowly. It had to be below 5 degrees but the guide started a hobo fire and we all stood around the barrel talking about the Super Bowl. As we were talking, one of the Cabin’s cooks drove to the site(why we did not do that I will never know) in a Yukon and gave us homemade brownies to eat and water to drink. It was late, so we headed back to the makeshift shelter and stayed for a long, cold night.
The shelter was cold but it was even colder outside. 25 degrees in the Quinzee and -5 degrees outside. Meanwhile, my hot chocolate froze. However we got plenty of sleep and had a funny conversation of how worse things could have been, in reality, we were fine but it just comes to say, “Be Prepared”.
The next morning was bright and cold. My shoelaces froze to the boot and we ran out of junk food to eat but that did not stop us. We packed everything, woke up Kenny and Tommy, and put our packs on our sleds. Before we left, Charlie and I took a look at the frozen lake, even walked on it. Before it was too late, we hiked back to the Ookpik cabin and had another wonderful breakfast. The troop loaded the trunks of the cars, bought soda known to Maine as ‘Moxie’ and drove back to Westchester. After that trip, Global Warming did not exist. -Giovanni La Vecchia