Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Awesome Adventures of Dana the Ninth Grader, part 1

This sucks.  Dana tried to keep that thought far away from her, but it was true.  No matter how well she and Kellie planned for this trip, they weren't prepared for how cold cold could be.  They were members of a popular ninth grade outdoor education class and they could only get in during the spring semester.  Spring at home was different than spring in the northern Omak National Forest.  It was not really spring.  It was winter in April.  There was snow everywhere.

And Mr. Branson wanted his class to learn how to spend the night in a tent in that snow.  Kellie and Dana had heard all the lectures about winter survival and how to keep warm.  How to pitch a tent in the right direction.  The dangers of frostbite.  Layering your clothes.  He explained how half of the students were going to stay in the lodge next to the big warm fire while the other half spent the night in tents in pairs.  And the next night they were going to switch--the lodgers will camp outside while the campers got the lodge.  Mr. Branson and Mr. Smith were going to do rounds and check each tent, which were given spots a few feet away from each other. 

Dana couldn't get her feet warm, so she tried curling up in a fetal position in her sleeping bag.  Staying warm took a lot of energy, but she and Kellie didn't plan their meals very well.  Neither girl could cook, but she trusted Kellie to know more than she did.  By the time she discovered that Kellie was clueless, it was too late.  They got along most of the time, but Kellie blew up that morning when Dana complained that she was burning the eggs over their little backpacker propane heater.   Dana suddenly realized that she was always complaining all weekend long.  But Kellie burned everything including oatmeal and Dana couldn't eat it. She resorted to cold lunch meat and fruit leather.  Her stomach rumbled.  She was sick of fruit leather.

Kellie was the talkative one, but throughout the trip, she got quieter and quieter.   Dana shivered a bit.  They didn't choose each other, Mr. Branson assigned them as partners the very first day.  They had nothing in common.  Kellie took charge most of the planning times that they had, and Dana stayed passively quiet.  And now, she was paying the price for her silence.  But to be fair, blaming Kellie was not the way to go.  They were partners and shared equal responsibility for their decisions. 

Dana had never planned anything before.  This was her first experience with taking the information a teacher gave her and applying it to a real life situation.  The dilemma that Kellie and she had to deal with is how to pack everything they needed and keep their backpacks under 40 lbs each.  It was a 5 mile hike to the lodge from the bus.  Uphill with a lot of switchbacks.  The first night, Dana was glad that they got the lodge, the hike took a lot out of her.  She didn't pay heed to Mr. Branson's recommendation that they get in shape by loading up their packs and taking long walks before their trip.  She couldn't imagine walking around town with a loaded backpack and getting stared at all the time.  It just looked dorky.

Dana tossed and turned, and gave a big sigh.  Kellie was still on her side of the tent.  She couldn't be asleep already. 

"Kellie?"

She heard a groan.  "Now what?"

"This sucks."

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