Winter Things

At present, my friends are planning the million ways to spend their tax refunds. I’m here wondering why I decided to volunteer over winter break when I could be basking in the post-tax-refund glory. I might have started off break in bed eating pizza and binge watching all of the new shows on Netflix, but by the end I was hiking up the White Mountains of New Hampshire with visions of frostbitten toes floating around in my head.

Last winter I earned my keep making AutoCAD drawings for the VA. Before that, I studied abroad in Turkey. This winter, try as I might, I couldn’t find anything meaningful (or paying) that would help me pass the time. So I emailed my old lab manager and grad student to see if they needed help. Then I showed up, actually eager to start testing samples. Boredom can make people do amazing things.

Picture from BrainyQuote.

There was a lot of work that had to get done. I bustled around washing bottles, prepping and testing samples, and reviewing test results. After two weeks, it was time for the monthly trip to the mountain for sample collection. The grad student was overjoyed that I wanted to go. I already knew how to pump the lysimeters for groundwater because of my summer research there. Besides, it was winter break. Who else was going to help?


We reached the cabin after a full day of driving. The “cabin” was a three story house bordering Mirror Lake with a nice kitchen and a cozy sofa across from a wood-pellet stove. The bird researchers we callย birders stayed there over the summer. Those students had to wake up at 6 a.m. everyday -including occasional weekends- to hike the mountain and track bird activity. Now that’s passion! Anyway, we began our trek up the mountain the next morning, but definitely not before the sun came up.

Without my snowmobiling certificate, we were forced to take this very slow but very combative-looking ranger up the mountain. It felt like we were riding on the back of a giant spider, with the treads being its wobbly hairy legs.

Once we got to the site I realized I overdid it with the double coats, double pants, and double socks. The hat and gloves were unnecessary too because snowshoeing up the mountain really warmed me up! The ski poles as walking sticks truly helped, especially on the steep watersheds. Weird fact about New Hampshire: They use sand on the slippery roads instead of salt because the temperatures are too low for salt to work!

In the end, I made up my mind to never go winter hiking again. Together, we collected over forty bottles of groundwater from various locations on the mountain. I wanted to give up many times, but thankfully I made it through to the end. Have you ever volunteered for something? What’s your take on it? And let me know if you’ve ever gone winter hiking! It was a completely new experience for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

thats all folks
Gif from Giphy.

9 responses to “Winter Things”

  1. “Have you ever volunteered for something?”

    Oh lawd, I once spent an entire year volunteering in Seattle; first for an environmental advocacy group and then for an organization that supported people with developmental disabilities. The experience made me really value money and meat. It’s a long story.

    And winter hiking is my absolute favorite! I love how hard it can be to just walk a few yards, and the woods are so beautiful in winter! I think I was a Canadian in a past life. Lastly, you look very intimidating in your growly helmet face. I promise I’m not being sarcastic at all ๐Ÿ˜›

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A friend of mine wanted to do Peace Corps for a while! It sounds like an adventure, but there’s no way I could value money and meat any more than I do now. haha.

      And about the hiking, I was just glad there were no mosquitoes. ๐Ÿ˜›

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Spend a year with almost no money and very little food and greasy, fatty, high-calorie morsels will taste better than ever ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I thought about the Peace Corps for a while, and I think it’d be a great idea. With the current US administration, though, I’m not sure if now is the best time. You never know if the Peace Corps’ funding will suddenly be slashed…

        Oh yea, mosquitoes! That’s another benefit of winter hiking: no bugs! The area where I grew up is also very swampy, so in some ways it was actually easier to walk around in the winter โ€“ when the water was frozen. Pushing through 2 ft of snow tends to exhaust the legs though.

        How are you doing with school, by-the-way? Are you almost done?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. speaking of no money and very little food…i am almost done with school, just 11 weeks left. then im heading to wisconsin for grad school. im thinking of having a little unit on my windowsill, trying to grow mushrooms and parsley. when my mini garden doesn’t suffice, i’ll just eat the pizza at group meetings.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It must feel nice to be almost done! Well, sort of done.

        Wisconsin has its advantages and disadvantages, as do all states. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there myself, and I can assure you that the winters won’t be any warmer than in New Hampshire!

        Do you like beer? Lots of that in WI: it could be a good way to supplement your diet of mushrooms, parsley, and pizza! Oh, and of course the famous Wisconsin cheese. I once saw a life-sized sculpture of Bret Favre made out of cheese. No lie. This is back when he was still a big deal.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite not bingeing Netflix and eating cold pizza in bed Iโ€™d say your winter break was still pretty amazing. New Hampshire sounds amazing. Though maybe Iโ€™ll check it out in the summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The trails are a lot easier in the summer for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The closest I got to winter hiking was cross-country skiing in boreal forest in Saskatchewan (Canada) about 30 years ago. I think the temperature was -15 C (5 F) or even colder. It was fine while moving, but as soon as I stopped I started to freeze. It was even too cold to linger over hot chocolate from a thermos. A fine experience in retrospect, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow that’s crazy. I much rather be inside cuddled up in a blanket with a fuzzy cat…but at least you can say you did it! Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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