Into the Past
Camping, hiking, cooking and standing there naked on the shores of Lake Superior.
Published: June 19, 2013
We were ready for our first “sweat.” We poured water over the rocks, and cascades of steam rose from the hole, superheating the lodge. Within a few minutes, not only was my nose warm, but sweat was dripping from my face. We poured water over the rocks until they gave no more steam. It was a very unusual sensation. Despite my perspiration, my gums still felt cold when I ran my tongue over them. But by the time we had done our fourth sweat, my core temperature had gone up considerably. My bones were warm. And now, when the last batch of rocks had cooled, the idea was to exit the lodge back into the cold and dress.
Did I mention I was naked? Well, even in a light drizzle, at about 40 degrees, it wasn’t totally unpleasant to exit the lodge, my body having stored up enough warmth for me to leisurely go about getting dressed. I stepped out, wearing my sandals, and was surprised at how comfortable I felt.
And then one of my friends asked me if I had a lighter.
Now, maybe my friend was a little distracted. It’s quite possible, while I was standing there naked, that I may have had a lighter somewhere nearby. But it seems to me that a naked man standing in the rain on a chilly night in the middle of nowhere may have other priorities than giving his buddy some fire. Anyway, once I was warm and dressed, it was another tale to laugh about.
It was important to get a break from the cold, because that night, our last at the camp, the temperature dipped down to 31 degrees, with light winds and drizzle. I realized how cold it was because one arm was outside my mummy bag and starting to ache, and I had to pull it back in. One buddy even had to hole up in the truck, as his bag just wouldn’t cut it.
We could do more than three nights, I guess, but three is just about right. I’ve been on trips where, on the fourth night, I spend much of my time thinking about a hot shower or a plate of biscuits and gravy. Three nights of roughing it is just enough time to miss the city and want to go back to its bargains.
And it’s a nice reboot. Everything runs a little bit different after a few nights in the bush: metabolism, appetite, sleeping, energy level. Roughing it builds a warmth inside you. And it’s the kind of warmth that trumps even the heated seats in the back of a 2500 Laramie Longhorn thundering back downstate, back into the future.
For more scenic imagery, see the slideshow.
Michael Jackman is managing editor of Metro Times. He stays clothed most of the time. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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