I just got back from a school camp trip to South Cooking Lake. I’ve gone four times now, for the fall and spring camps of the last two school years. Note that I say “spring” with a hefty dollop of sarcasm.
For the fourth camp in a row, the majority of the weather was wet and cold. We camp without the benefit of power, heat, or running water. The kids sleep in lean-tos. I generally sleep in my SUV. In warm, dry weather, roughing it is not a big deal. Sometimes it’s a treat to break away from the conveniences of home and hang out in my lawn chair. The cold drizzle, however, just makes me sad. It also makes me a very, very cold girl.
We were luckier this trip than in the fall, because it was what I would classify as a steady, mid-weight rain. Drops fell constantly, tossed about in the chilly wind that whips off the lake. In the fall, we had the kind of downpour that obscured vision and threatened to wash my contacts loose if I ventured outside with my eyes open. I’m grateful this time the rain was a bit more manageable.
The worst part for me about being wet and cold is being wet and cold. Remember that we have no heat. Remember that I’m a big wimp about these kinds of things. The real issue here is that my feet are the part of me that suffers most. Once my poor feet get a chill, that chill travels steadily north until I’m cold to the tops of my eyebrows. Although I spent my time at camp in my winter boots and thermal socks, my little piggies were like a row of tiny frozen pork roasts in each boot. Sigh.
I cannot sleep when my feet are cold. We sleep over in the woods for two nights during each camp. This means, for those attempting the math, that I have woken up multiple times on numerous separate evenings with icy cold feet that will not warm up. I have tried all the camping tricks the other attending staff suggested: I’ve slept with wool socks, no socks, no pants, two pairs of pants, a blanket wrapped around my feet inside my sleeping bag, the dog sleeping on my feet, and once I even wore my down filled slippers to bed. I wear the hood on my sweater tightly tied so I don’t lose precious heat through my scalp. Still, by about two am every time, I woke up with my feet frozen and way too many hours to pass until morning.
Yes, I’m a wuss. I hate being cold. A former student told me that women have poor circulation in their extremities so there is ample blood flow in the torso, you know, in case of a baby brewing. Well, guess what, circulatory system, I am absolutely sure I am NOT growing a baby, and it would have been great of you to divert some heat to my toes. Thanks for nothing. I can’t tell you, arteries and veins, how reassuring it was to know my spleen and kidneys were cosy and warm. Sheesh.
Last night, after lingering by the fire way too long because I dreaded the two am cold foot alarm, I scraped the bottom of my dufflebag looking for something, anything, to keep my little pigs warm. I put on the remainder of my dry clothes; three pairs of socks. I put a thing pair of “dressy” socks (who knows why I packed those, but there they were). On top of those, I stretched a pair of acrylic thermal socks, the ones that keep my feet toasty on January nights. Finally, I somehow managed to get my bundled feetsies into a pair of big nubby wooly socks.
I woke up at 6:12 this morning with the dog licking my face. My feet, by an incredible stroke of luck and the combined efforts of at least four different kinds of textile fibres, were only a little bit nippy. I was elated! I was slightly less elated when I realized that the extra tang on the dog’s breath was the result of all the horse turds he’d been eating at camp, but hey, my feet were in decent shape and I slept through the night. It was a “spring” miracle. Hooray!
I have yet to decide if I want to risk freezing beside the lake in the fall again, or if I want to let someone else hang out in the rain with the kiddos. The triple sock solution seems promising, and we’ll see if it influences my decision. For now, I’m just oh so glad to be sitting on my couch in my snuggly housecoat, warm and clean right down to my toenails.
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