Monday, January 20, 2014


Many of us have survived diseases of Cancer, Crohn's, Colitis and more.
Many of us have survived and recovered from related surgeries.

We develop a personal survival-mode which draws on our physical, mental, and spiritual strengths.
Survival-mode is primal and inherent to humans. 
We all have it, but we don't know how we will adapt until we are in a real situation.

Not in the same league as Cancer-Resection-Colostomy, 
but here's an adventure story of survival during 8 days with -44 degree COLD.

We have a remote cabin in Northern Canada.  It's a 4 hour drive from our home, then a 1 hour snowmobile ride across a lake.  My brother and I travel together with 2 snowmobiles.  Companionship is good, and having 2 people and 2 snowmobiles adds a safety factor.

On arrival, temperature inside the cabin was
the same as outside the cabin. COLD.
Frost showed on every nail.  
Frost on the windows painted amazing patterns.

Some snow shoveling is required,
 but I left the out-house trail for my brother to shovel,
as I have no use for the outhouse anymore.

When the temperature plummetted overnight to -40degrees, neither snowmobile would start.
We assumed our truck, 28kms away, would not start either.  
The weather forcast was for -44degrees for several days,
then a single day of balmy -25degrees,
then dropping to -40 for the following week.
With these temperatures, a 25km wind, and snowmobiling at a cautious 25km per hour ... 
The wind-chill was
      -81 degrees F 
or -63 degrees C 

In this weather, flesh freezes in minutes.  Lungs and nostrels are damaged by breathing the cold air. I can personally attest to this, as I froze a patch on my face, turning the skin white from no blood circulating.  As each skin-cell froze, the cell-walls expanded and burst.  My face swelled, and my skin oozed for 3 days.  The following week, a large patch of skin was shed.  I consider myself fortunate, as progressive freezing and lowering of core body temperature can be fatal.

It would be dangerous or deadly to travel in this weather.  We prudently changed our plan to stay an extra 3 days until the weather warmed.

We would be comfortable and safe in our cabin.
We burned a lot of firewood, but kept warm.
We stretched 5 days of food to make it last 8.
It was cold outside.  Our time outside was brief.

On the night of Day-8 the temperature hung at -44degrees, but the forcast was for -25 during the day.  This was our escape day. We needed to heat the snowmobiles so they would start. We would have to be adaptable and use what we had available. So we built a fire and made a heat-duct from a piece of metal-roofing. We covered the snowmobiles with some insulation and old carpet.  We enclosed the snowmobiles with a tarp to keep the heat in and the wind out.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked!

With snowmobiles running, we could travel the 28kms back to the truck.  It was highly unlikely that the truck would start, and we had no way of plugging in the truck's block heater.  With some creative thinking, we decided to haul the generator with the snowmobiles, so we could generate our own power to plug in the truck.

Fortunately all went well. We were phyisically and mentally comfortable in our situation, and were pleased with a valid excuse to extend our trip!
Meanwhile, family at home 
with less adaptability
and lower tolerance to cold, 
worried as if we were in survival mode. 

I wish there were more pictures, 
but it was just too hard on hands and camera