Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Great Outdoors


Mr. Yankee is a professional soldier. He has served for 22 years so far. A full time active duty position in Vermont is rare as hen’s teeth. We are fortunate. Mr. Yankee belongs to a unit that trains soldiers in mountaineering skills. These mountaineers have trained all over the world. They have lead expeditions to the earth’s highest peaks. If you get stuck between a rock and a hard place, one of these guys can get you out, usually in a matter of seconds.

You have to be careful about suggesting outdoor activities to a mountain soldier. In their minds, a walk in the woods is a three day backpacking excursion. When I was younger, I logged many miles on Vermont’s Long Trail behind Mr. Yankee. Once upon a clear, cold winter morning I suggested we go for a walk in the winter woods. We drove to Jeffersonville and walked up the road that winds through Smuggler’s Notch admiring the sparkling ice formations on the rocks, appreciating the stillness and crisp air. When we arrive at the point where the road is closed for the season because it’s packed with ice and snow, I expected to turn around and make our way back down to the car. Mr. Yankee dropped his rucksack and pulled out two pair of Koflach boots with crampons and two pair of ice tools. He was ready for our walk in the winter woods.

Packing for a camping trip is entirely different for a mountain soldier too. While I spend hours and hours trying to cram the entire contents of EMS into my backpack, Mr. Yankee looks at me and scratches his head as he places a water filter, a clean T-Shirt and two pair of clean sox into his backpack.

Tomorrow is the second annual camping trip for Mr. Yankee and The Goose. They will be going to one of the state parks. Camping in a state park is not Mr. Yankee’s idea of being outdoors but it is a gentle introduction for a four year old girl. They will go kayaking on Lake Champlain, they will go to the beach, there will be: potties that flush and sinks in which to wash hands. There will be a fire pit in which to burn wooden logs and roast marshmallows. And there will be a lean-to, a lovely luxurious shelter with a level surface on which to place cushy air mattresses and plush sleeping bags. We’ll save the 12 mile hikes over the spine of The Green Mountains, outhouses (or worse), MREs, and bivouac sites for when she’s a little older.

2 comments:

Elbog said...

That's what I love about you, Yank. Your sense of *perspective*.
Great post.

S. said...

What fabulous memories they will make! (or made already--didn't pay attn. to the date). What a lucky little girl!