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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Time I almost died in the Snow – 20 minutes ago, from a weighlifters perspective

Every few years, in Maine, we get a full on blizzard.   At Risto Sports, we’re located close to Boston, so we’re not quite in the  massive ski resort part of Maine, we’re more the coastal /boating/deep sea fishing/I can still commute to Boston/not too far from Bush’s house part of Maine.  

A blizzard of potentially record making proportions was barreling into the coast of Maine, and this meant one thing -- enjoy it.  Yes, let go of all your fears and angst and just love the snow for what it is. Close by Risto Sports, there are a few good sledding hills. This would be perfect use of God's white, frosty gold.
Right now, we also have 2 Ecuadorian weightlifters training with us- Neisi Dajomes, a 2 time youth world champion, and Mayra Hoyos, her coach.  Although both have been to places like Russia and Uzbekistan, neither had seen actual snow or a real snow storm for that matter.
 Admittingly, I wanted to try test out the hill then invite the Ecuadorian guests to get a dose of Maine Americana.  Sledding is safe, fun, easy, and fast to do.
LG, our bluetick coonhound , and I trekked  to the side of the hill with the sled in tow. The wind was blowing, a veil of large snowflakes across the land.  They poured down in criss-crossing, crystal rays from the sky.  The snow was deep.  It was already well over a foot and counting, and just 3 days ago, we got a layer of 6 inches.  What I didn’t expect were the snow drifts which come with a Nor’Easter blizzard.  

As it happens...what I'm thinking (yes, I get to switch tense...)
Our sled is actually a plastic toboggan. It’s a tobbogan because there are no rails underneath it. The true sleds are better for icy pact snow, the tobbagan is better for the deep fluffy stuff.  
I place the sled at the highest point of the hill to get the greatest potential energy and hence speed.  Our dog, is off the leash , prancing around, waiting for the sled to take-off. My daughter gets in the sled, feet first like a luge . I can barely see over the edge of the hill because of how high the snow is piled at its  transition point from up hill to down hill.
The sled thumps.  It slides like 2 feet then goes straight down with LG in tow. Our loyal dog follows LG and the sled, and, he too is, now, stuck.  The snow is above his neck.

At first, I laugh it off. It was so cute, the puppy stuck in the snow, the kid in over waist deep snow. 
LG, Jingle, and the sled... the blizzard is so cute at first


So, I make my way down to fish them out.  Keep in mind, I am about 20kg heavier than my daughter.  As soon as I step over the transition zone of the hill, I sink 4 ft.  I take another step and sink another foot.  Holy crap, I’m wading in a 5 ft snow drift of unpacked powder.  I'm in a snow drift!  Ohh yeah, blizzard winds can create snow drifts; its like a hurricane with snow.
No worries, its only 16 degrees F. How long do I have? Another hour or so? 

I keep moving. The more I struggle against the snow , the more I begin to sink.

Ok, so this is not working, lets try going down and walking back-up.  Negatory, still too deep. Ah ha, I'll use the sled to pack down the snow.... if that doesn't work, I can spread my weight across it, s we don't sink and try to climb back up it.  Nope,  too slippery, still too unpacked.  I imagine that this is what Indiana Jones must feel like in quick sand.

It's like a bad workout--when you keep fighting against a weight, it's just not happening... and you keep going at it anyway, even though you're now risking personal safety just to satisfy your ego, your need to be right.

Jingle has an idea. He's running towards the woods.  The forest's snow is quite lighter. The forest is the opposite direction of the gym.  I got my cell phone, maybe there will still be enough time to call for help and for then to find us.
 
We start moving. Just moving forward is progress.  From our new point of view, the lowest point in the area,  we can now see the undulations in the snow.  Yes, much of it is a giant wall where 2ft of snow was magically blow into 5 ft.   There is one spot that appears quite innocuous.

On a different side of the hill, a delivery truck was parked.  Hmmm, the huge truck was physically blocking the wind.  May be, that divot in the snow is a true break in depth.

We wade over in now waist deep snow,  which you can actually move through, towards the truck.  We start climbing the hill.  the sinking is attenuated.  LG, being much lighter, is able to climb up the side.  Jingle and I follow in the path.  I feel like I am doing a series of one leg squats trudging out of the snow.
Maine, blizzard of 2015

Well, we made it.   I now understand how someone could actually die in a blizzard if they just hit the wrong patch of snow.  We had to surrender our sled to get back up the hill. I'm sure we'll find it in the spring. 

See video of it on my instagram @gwensisto
 

 

 

 

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