Beautiful view, no? This is what DTG’s ‘Deep Freeze’ Class walked into on February 7 for about 40 hours. Snow pack was about 3 and a half feet or so of powder. Temps in the teens, and dropping as the afternoon wore into early evening.
All participants were pulling sleds with their necessary equipment and food in with them, as seen in the picture below. It took about an hour and a half to walk in, as breaking trail in powder is difficult work, even when you do PT as you’re supposed to do.
The group arrived at the camp area with about 45 minutes of daylight left; enough time to get positions sited and begin the process of digging in. When night descended, head lamps came out for the finishing work, as the first order of business is to ensure that everyone will make it through the first night of sleeping in below zero weather. The wind kicked up to about 25mph gusts, dropping the temperature even more, so the teams split: one man on a position, the other helping drag in dead fall and getting the fire going.
The next morning saw all participants anxious to get something warm inside, as the ambient temperature was 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The fire from the night before still had some coals left, so getting the warming fire going was not difficult. After a good breakfast and some water from hydration carriers kept in the sleeping bag and then worn under the outer layer but on top of an inner layer, the group took off for a trailing exercise and some firearms function checks. It seems that sometimes folks don’t necessarily remember to winterize rifles or pistols, and the actions lock shut.
While on the trail exercise, the group saw an interesting sight: A picnic table covered in snow that hadn’t been touched by human hands (no tracks anywhere) that looked like a coffin. A grim reminder that even training in deep winter, more than a mile from any vehicle and another 40 minutes from a medical facility can turn deadly; nature does not forgive.
The remainder of ‘trail exercise’ primarily dealt with discussing how to be effective in dealing with ‘bad people’ following in powder/deep snow conditions, and various tactics to provide incentives for them to stop tracking or following your party.
Above is a typical position, finished after dark, and improved the following day. All participants were responsible for their own sleeping arrangements, which consisted of a tarp to keep the wind away, a good sleeping bag, and ‘Grabbers’ or ‘Hot Hands’ brand hand warmers to break open about an hour before getting in the rack and throwing into the sleeping bag. They warm the bag up enough so that body heat isn’t wasted getting the sleeping bag producing warmth.
Our next class is Land Navigation on March 22nd, in Southeast Michigan. Register while you can; the class is getting full!