|Feather River College||
Most of the Adventure Based crew on our final day at camp
I've been trying very hard to think of a phrase that could really sum up the Adventure Based winter camping trip. I've tried everything from "Waking and walking in a winter wonderland" or "Snow angels and sleds" to "Wish we were warm" and even "Sleeping in a snow cave makes you slimy". None of these worked for me, and they were all much too alliterative. I now believe I have found the truly perfect phrase to fit the entirety of our winter camping trip. Ready for it? "Butter Looks Tasty." Now, before you judge my choice allow me to explain the basis for this phrase (and also recall that I have creative license here and there is nothing you can do about it).
You are probably thinking, who doesn't like butter? It makes so many things taste great! Let me stop you right there. I am aware that things credited to have buttery goodness often are quite delicious, but this is not what I mean when I say snow camping can be summed up with the phrase "Butter Looks Tasty". Let me paint you a mental picture.
Imagine you are well fed. In this hypothetical day you have already eaten a full three meals and are now cleansing your palette with a post-dinner snack. From your seat on a luxurious foam pad placed on the outer rim of a ditch dug into the snow you notice a rectangular shaped food item wrapped in a brilliant cloak of gold and red paper. This thing suddenly commands every bit of your attention. Seemingly of their own accord your fingers begin to undress this marvelous treat. Your mouth begins to water as your salivary glands have lost all control in anticipation of the bliss that is to come. You hear nothing but the ripping of paper, you feel nothing but the desire (stop freaking out, this is about butter, remember?) to devour every last bit of yellow goodness beneath the paper outer garment. This will not be a nibbling affair, oh no, this will be all chomping and gulping. Nothing else matters, save for this moment...
If it was unclear to you, what was just described was the intense desire to eat an entire stick of butter. This is something that will undoubtedly happen to you should you choose to spend many hours camping in the snow, and I shall tell you why. Snow camping you see, is an awful lot of work. This became rather apparent to our Adventure Based class at Feather River College as soon as we ventured away from the dual wheeled van and into the backcountry of Lassen National Forest.
Though all this work was necessary to be relatively comfortable on this trip, the payoff was amazing. Every tour we took through the backcountry was fantastically beautiful. Very few things can compare to the scenic value of a mossy conifer forest blanketed with pillowy sheets of snow, and our class was lucky enough to spend over half a week in this environment. We received a full variety of gorgeous weather on our trip. Rain, hail, and snow greeted us when we arrived at camp, however when we left our little clearing there was nothing overhead save the sun in a cloudless sky. The class took in incredible panoramic views of snow covered peaks above the greenest of trees, saw rolling grey clouds reflect the topography of the Lassen caldera, kicked our way through fog and ice to Brokeoff Peak, and a lucky few were witness to the rarest of occurrences as Saylor Flett, our class instructor and renowned champion of the longboard skis, gloriously ate snow in what I'm told was a skiing wipeout of epic proportions.
Our stellar instructors Rick Stock (left) and Saylor Flett (right)
Now for the big question: what does all this have to do with "Butter Looks Tasty?" Prepare yourself for the big answer. The above anecdotal description serves to accurately depict the large amount of work and play which is required to successfully and happily camp in the snow for several days and several nights. All of this energy spent in the snow makes a person quite peckish. This hunger extends far past wishing for a nice meal. The peckishness (which IS a real word...creative license, remember?) one develops grants them two things. One: a caveman-like desire for the bare essentials their body needs to continue to function. Two: What is commonly referred to as an iron stomach, or if you prefer, MBS (Mighty Bowels Syndrome). Add these two together and what do you get? An overwhelming desire to consume a stick of butter. The fat helps to keep you warm, the salty-sweet taste is more delicious than anything else you've got with you, and you're in the middle of the backcountry surrounded only by people with the same cravings as you, therefore nobody will judge you. Therefore, "Butter Looks Tasty" is the only phrase which can correctly capture all the feelings of exhaustion, contentedness, longing, and wonder that are created through the experience of camping in the snow. I now refer you back to paragraph three, in which was described the feeling of wanting the blessing of a butter stick more than anything else. That my friends, is what snow camping is all about.
Written by Jonathan Simenc
Photos by Izak Lederman
Because photos are fun. Credit to Izak Lederman and Lauren Tango