Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Long Road Back

Now I know everyone under age 60 will be going, “Oh, what rubbish.” All I know is, it is what it is, and I am willing to try anything to get back to where I need to be. I’ve been sick for the last two MONTHS, if that answers why I’ve been able to do so much reading. I’ve been too sick to do anything else. I started with a cold. After a week it turned to sinusitis. A week later, that turned to a viral infection. A week later I started feeling much better and needed to escape from the house. That’s when I made the run at trying to make an Arkansas River trip with Scott Richard. Crash and burn! The one night sleeping out in the cold knocked me right back on my heels and started the whole cycle all over again.

I just can’t bounce back like I used to. I can no longer just tough it out, so I decided to make a more gradual recovery through conditioning. If I had made some outdoor trips during the fall, I would have been fine, but I missed the whole season change. People wonder why wild birds that don’t migrate are able to tolerate such extreme conditions during the winter. According to an avian veterinarian, it’s not the temperature or weather as much as sudden changes that do them in. If they have a couple months to acclimate along with the gradual change of the seasons, they can tolerate much greater extremes. I missed that whole conditioning period. Keep putting the food out for the birds, however. Temperature tolerance doesn’t mean they don’t still have problems finding food when everything is dead or covered with ice and snow.

Jean says I’m crazy, but I’m trying to condition myself gradually in much the same way they do. Feeling well once again, I’ve started sleeping every other night in our unheated garage. After a few nights there, I’ll move to the tent. I have a couple trips I’d like to take in the not too distant future that will be impossible if I can’t tolerate being outdoors in cold or bad weather. Besides outdoor acclimation, it gives me the advantage of being able to experiment more with alternative sleeping arrangements with bags, base layers, pillows, etc. Yup, I’m at that age when I can’t survive without a good pillow. Most agree that you can survive almost anything if you can still get quality sleep.

It also just offers the opportunity of being just a few feet closer to nature. Three nights ago a huge owl moved tree to tree as it serenaded me through the night. Last night the noise of a light rain made me enjoy sliding a bit deeper in the bag as I was lulled to sleep. Crazy or not, it’s still nice to get out of the artificial environment of the house.

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