We got up and got the kids around and ran them over to Matt & Amy’s by 8:15 am. and headed to O-Hill for bivy training. Training started at 9:00am. First we had to find a spot that was fairly flat and clear it of sticks and rocks. Chester & I found the perfect tree to build our bivy against. It had a small fork coming off that was perfect for placing the spine of our bivy in.
We really had amazing weather to build our bivys in. I think by the time we were done we had shed out coats and were just working in sweatshirts. The sun was shining and it was nice and clear.
After we stuffed the inside with leaves we covered the frame structure with black trash bags that we cut open. This helps keep wind and weather off of you inside.
We then covered the plastic with branches to make it easier to pile leaves all over the bivy.
After we covered the plastic with branches we then piled at least 1 1/2 ft. of leaves all over the outside. We hauled LOADS of bags of leaves to dump on our bivy. Thankfully it was fall and the weather was dry so there were LOTS of dry leaves to collect. We finished up building our bivy around 11:30 and headed home for a few hours before we had to head back out.
After dinner we headed back to UVA. We all met and hung out at one of the lounges down there. BRMRG provided lots of snacks, so we ate and then played a few games and visited before heading out about 10:30pm. for O-Hill for night-nav. We hiked around in the cold for a while doing our night nav training/testing. Thankfully we passed and made it back to the lounge. Around midnight we headed back out and up to our bivys for the night.
In order to pass the FTL (Field Team Leader) level you had to stay in a bivy for 5 hours at a temperature below 40*. We were able to pass that since the temp was in the 30’s. That was nice so we didn’t have to do it for FTM (Field Team Member) and then retest at a later time for FTL. We got them both done in one time! Totally worth the cold!
I learned quite a bit that night. Here are a few things I learned. #1 It is weird sleeping out in the night on O-Hill since it is in the city. We heard sirens, cars, and lots more city noises during the night. Seemed really funny we were doing wilderness type training out in the woods but were really still in town. #2 ALWAYS climb all the way into your Bivy bag and cinch the hood down over your face. You won’t die of suffocation, if you don’t you might die of freezing. It was amazing how much warmer I was once I cinched my bag closed up over my head and face. #3 This was actually a fun, crazy thing to do. I’m glad I can say I did it but, I don’t plan on doing it many more times in my life. #4 Freezing together with your husband and rest of your team can draw you closer together and strengthen your team. I’m sure there are other things that I learned but that is all I can think of at the moment.
I didn’t sleep a whole lot. I feel like I stayed awake until at least 4:30am. I would occasionally hear Chester snoring and I have to say I was jealous of him sleeping and not me. I had been up a bunch the night before with kids and so I was sure I was going to sleep well. I was an emotional basket case by the time we got into our bivy because of lack of sleep and probably cold and uptightness from night-nav. (not my specialty) Well I guess I got to the point of being so tired I couldn’t go to sleep because I was very disappointed to spend most of the night awake listening to all the night noises around. At one point I got VERY cold. Chester asked me how I was doing and I told him I was freezing. It was then he asked me if I had the hood of my bag over my head. No I didn’t, I was using it as a pillow. He told me I’d be a lot warmed if I cinched it shut over my face, so I did it and was much warmer. After feeling like I had laid there awake for hours I finally decided to ask Chester what time it was. I was praying we were at least 1/2 through our night stay. Well to my surprise he told me it was 4:30am. I was THRILLED, only 1 hour left and we could get up and go inside somewhere warm. I guess I was comforted by that thought and drifted off to sleep. I was sleeping when Greg (our training instructor) came and woke us up and told us we had made it and could get up.
We crawled out of our bivys and headed for our cars in the darkness. That is when I got really cold. Maybe our bivy was warm after all. One guy had taken the temp inside his bivy it was 40 something in there so it did keep up from freezing at least. We headed back to the lounge area and had a hot pancake breakfast prepared by a few of the BRMRG crew. After eating lunch we headed home to get a HOT shower and take a NAP! That afternoon we went and picked the kids up and had dinner with Matt & Amy. Thanks so much Matt & Amy for watching the kids and fixing us dinner!