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Front Page » January 16, 2007 » Opinion » Cold weather can be a great adversary
Published 2,816 days ago

Cold weather can be a great adversary


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The other night I was at a meeting in Castle Dale and when I walked out into the night air; my nose immediately froze.

It was then I knew it was cold.

When I got in my truck I looked up at the temperature gauge and it said minus nine degrees. When I got home I watched the news and I felt like we're living in the banana belt compared to Randolph, Delta and Cedar City where temperatures dropped below -20 F.

This cold snap and the one we had in late November have been eye opening. We haven't had it this cold in some time and we tend to forget what it is like.

But running from a building to the car or running outside to get the mail only gives us a little inkling of what the cold can do to us. It is a great adversary and one that can be debilitating.

Take Sunday afternoon for example. The temperature, standing in the sun was reasonable, if you were dressed right. It was so nice that my son and I decided to take our dogs out and pull the sled around a little bit in Clark Valley where there was about six to eight inches of snow.

This winter we are in the middle of training some young dogs to run on the team so we took only the single dog sled and a four wheeler as a back up vehicle.

We got to the departure point, hooked up and away we went. New dogs always tangle up the lines, like to lay down and get pulled along, etc. So we spent a lot of time on this day undoing messes. For the first three or four miles it was great. Then it got to be about 3:30 the wind started to blow from the north.

Despite the warm sun, the chill set in very fast.

My son was dressed in his full mushing gear; I on the other hand had seen the nice temperature when we left, and had failed to put on good snow boots, my big face protecting parka and coveralls. Instead I had on a 20 year old coat I use for handling dogs, blue jeans and some regular low cut waffle stompers. It was a huge mistake and after years of doing this I realized that once again I had been fooled by the weather. Within a mile of turning the sled around to go back to the trucks, my face was numb and my feet no longer seemed to exist. The day had turned from a lazy day ride in the park to almost torture.

By the time we reached the vehicles to load up, I could hardly move. And I found I couldn't think very straight either. I had a hard time getting to the right key on my ring just to open the door of my truck; not only was my dexterity off because of cold fingers, but my mind couldn't sort out the keys. I did finally get it right and I got the truck started to warm it up. We loaded up dogs, the sled and the machine and headed back to my sons.

Despite the heater in my truck going full blast, a warm dinner at the my sons house before going home, I didn't get warm that night until I took a hot shower and jumped into bed.

In the last couple of weeks I have heard discussion about how stupid the guys who lost their lives in northwest were when they didn't go prepared for the weather in a climb on Mount Hood. I wasn't on top of a mountain with snow blowing at 90 mph, nor was I far from help or from warmth. Yet in that little bit of time we were out I found myself losing control not only of my physical faculties but also of my mind. I was probably in the first stages of hypothermia.

And you know what; it was all my fault. I have learned over the years that one should always over prepare when outdoors. I once took the hike to the top of Mount Timpanogos and ran out of water before I got back. I was under prepared. Another time I was dirt biking in the west desert near Delta and my bike broke down; I had no water and it was 95 degrees. I was alone; luckily my friends found me.

And Sunday was just another one of those same things. You get a little cocky, a little over confident about how much you know or just a bit lazy and it can catch up with you fast, especially when it is cold.

From now on, no matter the weather, I am wearing all the gear; it can always come off if I don't need it.

As for my son he was fine, but that is because he respected what we were heading into. He had fun, I on the other hand found cold to be a very formidable adversary.

There are times when us old guys can learn a thing or two from our kids.


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January 16, 2007
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