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I’m very proud to have Viking blood surging through my veins, maybe perking, trickling, or seeping at times. I’m part Norwegian but mostly Finnish and Saami, reindeer people. I came from a long line of anglers, 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 realize slowly, 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 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 snowshoe was about the only way to travel. There were very few snowmobiles at that time. The rescue units had a snow-cat similar to those used in the Antarctic and the Arctic expeditions. That snow-cat did not get used for recreation, strictly for rescue.
I have always been one to ponder a project, then build it—a tinker who manufactures what he needs from odds and ends in our backyard or the old toolshed. I knew I needed snowshoes if I was going to do much of anything that winter. I came up with my designer snowshoes and proceeded to manufactured a pair in a short time.
My goal was to go deer hunting in a large area of the swamp over a mile square. There were many deer wintering in there. They had their own path 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-flashy-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 was 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 snowshoe 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 headfirst 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 tries to stand up would send the other foot right through, right back down to the bottom again that 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 got trapped. The hunter gets trapped, an amusing turn of events. I could see where the wind blew the hardest it made a 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 the evening. I, even being the sturdy, proud Viking that I am, started to get a slight 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 lonely, lost, hopeless feeling.
I started to consider the situation that I got myself into by not thinking it clearly initially. 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. He died in the snow, making it 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 trekking 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.
4 thoughts on “Survival Slog”
winter sucks yep!!!! …well, snowed this am here ..all got quiet during a downpour only to lewk out to see it snow for an hour er so what a trip….winter yuk! ………..kewl story ^^^^ …been there done that sloggin thing a time er 2 myself 🙂 .cheers 2 u an urs….. Q
I can’t even begin to imagine 100 inches of snow. Great story and great to know you are of Viking descent. You will always have that Nordic magic running through your veins.
Thank you for the kind words Trev, makes this old geezer feel real good.
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What an interesting life you’ve led.