13 miles above La Crosse, WI – October 5, 2012
I can’t keep my hands and feet warm. It feels like my heart can’t pump blood that far. They numb in and out, sometimes aching sharp, sometimes hanging like blocks of ice, sometimes dull and barely in my perception.
I listen to the weather radio every few hours. I spin the knob and hope it will tell me warmth is coming, that I will go to sleep tonight and wake up in summer. But it doesn’t lie. It tells me tomorrow will be worse, that the high is in the 40s, the low in the 20s, and the wind will blow and blow.
I set up camp early, while the sun gives a hint of warmth. My numb fingers are clumsy and sharp with pain, but they work well enough when I watch them. I crawl into my sleeping bag and wait for my limbs to come back to me, slow and agonizing inside the quilted down, thawing with each heartbeat.
I close my eyes and began gathering my will, knowing I will have to rise in the morning.