Was it minus 17 or minus 22? Who knows? Who really cared! The official
2001 outdoor winter pajama party was held on Saturday February 3rd -
really for the purpose of trying out my new North Face minus 29 sleeping
At 4:30 Saturday afternoon, 7 hardy Gonzo souls met for a traditional
prior to the long (2 minute) drive to the trail-head at Jack's Lake. Only
the Sungod could have predicted that the parking lot would not be plowed
and have arranged for us Gonzos to park our cars at a house, near the
entrance! Do you EVER question why we leave trip planning to anyone other
Gordon "Viking" Warnica, Norm "Dudley" Stein, Bruce "Sungod" Duffy, Bruce
"Dipper" Murphy, Andrew (I think he should be trail-named) "Chainsaw"
Weniger, Wayne "PR" Banks, and myself Mark "I'm Selling Halifax!" Stein
left for our trudge through deep snow for the 30-minute hike to the fire
pit at Jack's Lake. The hike in was truly uneventful, except for the
passing back of the kit back full of firewood from one hiker to the next
after 5 minutes each; we made it to the site. By this time it was dark and
we each staked out our tent or tarp sites.
Packing down the snow with my boots, to mark off an area for my tent, was
the beginning of the interesting job of setting up my tent, in the cold,
in the DARK. Now, I'm not the best tent setter-upper in the best of times,
so it was an interesting struggle to get things done - but they got done -
each of us crabbing a bit about the poor job we were each doing! Great
Soon, after the tents/tarps were up, we laid out our sleeping pads and
bags (I of course looked at my minus 29 bag and thought - it better work!)
Sungod checked his official thermometer and it read minus 15, so I felt
pretty secure, with a minus 29 bag! The fun began as we each set up our
little stoves and began cooking supper. I had steak & mushrooms with
sauteed veggies (ya, why not!) Viking had the usual pasta, Andrew had stir
fried chicken, Dipper fried rice while the other guys stuck to hot dogs on
the soon to be built fire!
Speaking of fire - Wayne (who used to be pack-it-in-pack-it out)'PR' Banks
(you'll have to ask him what the PR stands for....no, it's not public
relations....) and Dudley started to dig a hole in the snow to find the
good old bottom! What ended up being about four feet below, they started
the fire and Sungod built snow seats for us all inside out hand-hewn fire
pit! We all donated some kindling from home, but it was Andrew "chainsaw"
who pulled out his saw & brought us a continual supply of wood for the
night's fire - we were amazed at what he cut with the little saw - I still
say he had a chainsaw (with a silencer) ....therefore his new trail name.
We got the fire going , drank some tea/coffee and told great Gonzo bedtime
stories. Ah...the best was yet to come! Dipper pulls out his solar-powered
(great at night, Bruce!) portable radio and tunes into DANNY FINKLEMAN'S
45'S. Got to love it! We had to hold Sungod down from either thrashing
Danny Finkleman or from doing the 'frug'...we weren't quite sure. He
blamed it on the lack of oxygen, once we were above the Aliyah Step......
The record was broken (for Viking) who stayed awake until after 8:00 and
it was Sungod & Dipper (the youngster) who stayed up I believe until 9:50,
telling lies around the fire.
We all said out good nights, like an old episode or Little House on the
Prairie....good night John Boy, good night Elizabeth.....
Would we all survive?
Morning came early for Viking, Dipper & Chainsaw who were up & out by 7.
The rest of us lazy lugs were up and out be 8! The neatest part of getting
up in the morning (it was minus 17) was the realization, that yes it was
light out, but it was BLOODY cold - rolling up your pads and tents &
stuffing them back in their little houses....it's damn hard in the cold!
No one made breakfast (although Dipper was the exception & had flambéed
something)..... and once we were packed up we hiked out to our cold cars
and headed, of course for Timmies for a hot one!
By the way, my minus 29 bag worked like a charm & I kept toasty warm. It
was well worth the 2nd mortgage taken out to buy it.
Another successful outing for the hardier Gonzos - when's the next trip
guys - I didn't buy this bag to use it once!!!!!
Thanks for a great time and even better friendship.