Thursday, July 21, 2011
To Begin With
1.Your job over the next four weeks is to lead eight girls into the New England wilderness and keep them fed. It would be ideal if they didn't get physically banged up at all, but they are a radically uncoordinated bunch so just do what you can. You have nothing to worry about, as you are well aware, because this is entirely within your range of ability, you led the same trip last year, and especially with your newly acquired medic skills you are more than a capable leader. We'll tell you right now- and we're not spoiling any surprises because in terms of the girls there are no surprises to be spoiled- that you'll encounter three nose bleeds, two "sprained" knees, one partial thickness burn (boiling water, dinner, surprising it wasn't worse) and the normal amount of blisters and scratches. On day three in the White Mountains it will rain for eight hours as you march up and down four miles of exposed ridge line at a dazzlingly slow pace, but you and Liz do an admirable job at staving off hypothermia. There are two overturned canoes and, during one unfortunately synchronised spell, about eight times the amount of menstrual cramps you were prepared to hear about at one time. Absolutely nothing to write home about. We will warn you however, and not to spoil any surprises here, that just five days into the trip you'll receive a terrible piece of news- it will quite literally land in your lap- and after that a trembling, unfathomable sadness will slouch its way into your amygdala and dominate every thing you do, down to the last detail.
2. The trip begins with a four day canoe trip across lake Umbagog and down the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire. Everything is serene and pleasant and the girls are doe eyed and eager and brand new at everything. You and Liz, but mostly Liz, teach them the practicals of camping- how to prime a stove and light a blue flame without blowing themselves up, how to get a fire going in the evenings and properly stake out a tent. Your imparted wisdom is less pertinent but, you contend, may be very important one day. It is important to keep a severed digit cool by wrapping it in wet rag and storing it in a waterbottle, you tell them over dinner, holding up a half full Nalgene and shaking it. However, do not submerge the digit fully in water, it will decompose. They gamely absorb this and other information you dole out, and over dessert they beg to hear your adventure stories. They think you're funny, one of the most exciting people they've ever met. If the world were comprised of sixteen year olds, you think to yourself as you hold a marshmallow stick over the fire, you would be a very famous person, although you're faintly aware that the full ramifications of that statement are not entirely positive towards you.