disclaimer - it's not backpacking, or even light, but since it's offseason backpackin here, this is as good as it gets for new year's in the deserts of southern utah.
video is here - Crossing the line at FreezeFest IX
"It's the bad idea that caught on"
I'm not sure who's mind this annual tradition of mid-winter madness originally belongs to, but I can't imagine it being the product of any rational thought.
The mornings were hauntingly cold, and motivation to get out of camp early was as short as the days one week removed from winter solstice. It took a few nights to realize that sleeping with a canister of fuel was the fastest way to get boiling water the next morning. That is, if the water container hadn't frozen solid during the night. Arriving back at camp at night set off a race against the sun. The object was simple: get into the warmest clothes possible, and get dinner started before the temperatures plummeted. If you don't, the warmth of a booming campfire would be too comforting to divorce, and tending to these other matters would no longer seemed reasonable.
And to think, I have been led to believe these new year's trips are not to be missed. Yet, year after year, I put up little in the way of resistance. And usually, neither does anyone else. But this year would not be like all the others. It was cold. And rainy. Then FREEZING. And then FRIGGIN' FREEZING. It was brutal!
We were hoodwinked, I tell ya. Hoodwinked. It didn't take long for the number of participants to quickly climb above the forecasted high temperatures, and it became obvious to me that FreezeFest is a tradition that could have been conceived only by halfwits, and attended regularly only by fools.
To their credit, these fools know how to have a good time. I first attended FF in 2007, and have been a part of the traditional mayhem ever since. For FreezeFest 9, 35 people made appearances at one time or another. The reasonable folks stayed only a few days, while the more loony stayed a week or more. As the final seconds of 2010 ticked away, about 20 people remained huddled around the campfire, anticipating the curtain-raising event of the new canyon year: a January 1st descent of the Black Hole.
A special hat tip to all those who made it down for the celebration. It was great to meet and canyon with you, but it was even better to see your cars full of more firewood. Here's to another great year!