Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt
I’m very proud to have Viking blood surging through my Nordick veins, maybe perking, trikling or seeping at times. I’m part Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Saami, reindeer people. I came from a long line of fishermen, trappers and hunters. They were all survivors, some living in the worst climate on this globe. Many of them came from north of the Arctic Circle. I have come to slowly realize, all of those ancestors in no way gives me a free pass to not respect, or take for granted the elements of nature and the great outdoors.
In the winter of 1968 and 69 we had well over 100 inches of snow here in Northeastern South Dakota in what is called the Glacial Lakes Region. That winter resembled a lot of places north of the Arctic Circle. The prairies of South Dakota and the Lake region have never been snowshoe country. That winter snowshoes were about the only way to travel, over the many drifts or the over 100 inches that was on the level. There were very few snowmobiles at that time, the rescue units had a snowcat similar to those used in the Antarctic and in the Arctic expeditions. That snowcat was not used for recreation, strictly for rescue.
I have always been one to ponder a project, then build it. A person who manufactured what he needed from odds and ends that could be found lying about in our backyard or the old toolshed. I knew I needed snow shoes if I was going to do much of anything that winter. I came up with my own designer snowshoes and proceeded to manufactured a pair in a very short time.
My goal was to go deer hunting in a large area of swamp that was over a mile square. There were many deer wintering in there. They had their own trail system developed. I planned on an easy slog when I got to their trails. I drove as close to the swamp as I could get with my car, then strapped on my not so snazzy looking new snowshoes. I was ready to travel quietly and smoothly on top of the deep snow, no slogging for me. The great White Hunter walking on top of the snow, like a polar bear. I found out I had to walk with a whole lot different gait than I was used to, but I picked up and slid my feet along staying on top of the snow quite well.
I got out to the middle of this magic deer marsh where many trees had grown thick in one large area. I managed to catch my right snow shoe on a tree branch that was just under the snow. My right snowshoe just disintegrated before my eyes and it wasn’t very long before the other one came apart. That’s when I finally realized just how deep the snow was. I went head first into the snow, floundering around getting up it was way past my waist in most places. I found out it was next to impossible to get back up on top of the snow. Each try to stand up would send the other foot right through, right back down to the bottom again. This went on for quite a long time, I was weak and working up a sweat from plowing snow with my body. It also was starting to get very cold.
I was sitting there half submerged doing a reconnaissance job on my surroundings and the situation I was trapped in. The trapper gets trapped, amusing turn of events. I could see where the wind blew the hardest it made a fairly good crust on top of the snow. I decided to stay away from the trees and follow these wind swept areas. I was doing quite well, traveling without falling through most of the time. I was using my gun for a cane to help keep my balance. It was starting to approach evening, me, even being the sturdy proud Viking that I am, started to get a little panic attack. I was soaked with sweat, still falling through a lot and rapidly running out of strength, the youthful limitless energy was gone. Looming doubts quickly formed about being able to get back to my car. That was a terribly lonely, lost, hopeless feeling.
I started to consider the situation that I got myself into by not thinking it through clerly at the beginning. I should have realized from the start, if I would have shot a deer, there was no way I was ever going to get it out alone. I would have to contact someone with a snowmobile, they were rare, this was also the days before the cell phone.
I kept slogging along thinking, I may not get out of this mess, a simple little hunting trip brought about my demise. It will make quite a story for people to tell years from now. I can hear some of the comments. “He was young and very foolish.” “Everyone knows deep snow treking requires good snowshoes.” ‘Wasn’t as tough as he thought.” “He thought he could slog it out.”
I did somehow muster up enough energy to get to my car, another lesson from the school of hard knocks.