This photo resurfaced about 2 months ago when our friend John posted it on Facebook. It immediately brought back a flood of memories. Matt Opack, one of our high school teachers was instrumental in getting my friends and I interested in wilderness adventure and winter camping.
He is the second from the right in the back row. I'm the third person from the left in the back row.
The photo was taken on a trip we took to the Environmental Learning Center in Isabella, Minnesota. The purpose of the trip was to learn about winter survival and this was only the first of many that we would take. We had slept out the previous night in -24 F weather. It was an enjoyable and memorable experience.
The original ELC is no longer in existence. It burned a while back and since been replaced by the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.
After that my friends Gary, Steve, Mike and I had many cold winter experiences in the wilderness of northern Minnesota. The coldest being several -30 F nights in the Isabella area along with some very cold nights up in the border country of the Gunflint Trail. I also had the opportunity to return to the ELC while attending the community college in Hibbing, Minnesota.
On one trip I had the opportunity to sleep out in the dead of winter with a group of biologists from the U of M. We sat up late howling for wolves only to have them return our cries with their own. It was eerily beautiful experience. We could actually see their eyes shining from the firelight. That morning we found that the pack had come to with yards of our campsite.
Definitely one of the more memorable experiences I've had in the wild.
I miss those days and my friends with whom I enjoyed those experiences with. These experiences helped mold who I am today and make me long to be in the woods of northern Minnesota. The photo also made me realize how long ago that really was and that whether I like or not...I am getting old. Photos unfortunately can also bring with them a great feeling of sorrow. Two of my friends pictured are no longer with us. They along with two other friends were tragically killed in an automobile accident shortly after graduating for high school several years later.
I've always loved the winter months with its short days and long cold nights filled with stars and the aurora borealis.