Tour of Duty

0300 Hours October 3, 2012. “Red tent, close your vestibule” I yell over the howling outside of my tent. The weather forecast the day before had called for 100+ kilometers/hour in the Canterbury High Country.  My arms ache from holding the tent walls up, spread  as they have been for over ½ an hour.  The northwester wind whips through the Cameron Valley.  Zippers jangle and shovels clatter on the rocks as they are pushed around.  I watch the red tent’s occupant’s headlamps move toward the door.  There is no reply, but door is gathered in and the flapping stops.

The moonlight and reflective snow allow a clear vision of the three other tents.  I watch Travis get out, move rocks and tighten guy lines.  I emerge from my tent for my second tour of duty of the long night to do the same as Travis.  I fight the vestibule door close then struggle to stand up in the howling wind.  I turn and find several of our guy lines hanging limply and flopping in the wind.  I bend over to tie the guy line and the wind rips my puffy jacket up onto my back, exposing my bare skin to the cold, biting, wind.  I grab the guy lines, and grapple against the punishing wind in what is usually a simple endeavor.  After securing the mothership I turn and take a tour of the student’s shelters.  Things look tight but the four person, which sits cross ways to the winds, is in need of some reinforcements.  “Hey four person, someone get out here and tighten these guy lines.”  I wander off to the rock field and grab some large blocks as Joe pokes his head out of the tent.   We add more rocks and tighten things up, fighting a never-ending battle.

I crawl back into my vestibule, shake off the cold and resume my position bracing the tent poles from the wind.

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A little bit less of a nomad now, Jared still likes to refer to himself in the third person.