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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
Stephen Jabaut grew up in New York State’s Adirondack Park: a woodsman’s playground complete with mountains to hike, horses to ride, and lakes to sail – and in winter, it can be perfect for cross country skiing. However, it can also have its dangers, which Stephen found out on a recent ski trip. Luckily, he was wearing wool – and it saved his life. Read on for Stephen’s account of what happened. It was a morning like any other. Just your typical Upstate New York polar vortex bringing the air temperature somewhere well below zero. It was however, a gorgeous day with blue skies and there was fresh snow on the ground. I decided to go for a jaunt on cross country skis through our family’s backwoods out to the lake for some crisp air and exercise. Because it was so cold, I layered up. I put on some Merino wool knee socks with long underwear and topped with a wool sweater, jacket and cap to keep me cozy. I made my way through the frozen swamp that leads to the brook and by the time I made it to the mouth of the winding estuary, I was feeling toasty from the work out and took a moment to enjoy the vista of the expansive mountain lake before me. Summer homes, long abandoned since the coming of the cold, dotted the shores of Dunham’s Bay as I entered Lake George. Crack... I was 100 feet from shore when I heard a noise, looked down and saw black water where white ice once was holding me. I immediately knew that I was going in. I was able to catch myself just below arm level and keep my head from going under water. Every time I tried to pull myself from the freezing waters, the ice broke beneath my body. OK, breathe, focus, what do I do? I knew I had to lose my skis and poles but by the time I had my two poles and left ski and boot off, my fingers had lost all dexterity and so I had to leave my last ski on. I spotted the nearest dock, and in what felt like an eternity I did a series of pushups out of the water to break a path to shore – each time pulling myself from the water, feeling my muscles become more fatigued and useless, and each time breaking through submerging and becoming colder. But I had to breathe, I had to keep it together. Lose it and I’d be dead. By the time I made it to the dock, the right side of my body was almost completely numb. Using the last (and I’m talking last) bit of strength in my body, I slung my deadened right arm around the dock post and leveraged my left upwards and somehow managed to pull most of my body out of the water. So there I was, standing with one boot on, on an abandoned dock with no one around for miles. Iamoutofthewater,butIamnotoutofthe woods. If I could not get warm, or get help, my organ systems might begin to fail. Luckily for me, I managed to find a summer house that I could punch my way into – cutting my hand wide open in the process – but there was no gas in the stove, the water pipes were frozen, and my fingers were too cold to light a fire. And that’s when I saw it. Jammed under a desk was an old cellphone that looked like it came out of a 1970s office. This was it. Life or Death. I picked up the phone. A dial tone! I called 911, and even though the phone was not in service, you can always call in an emergency. Always. The paramedics later found me shivering violently, wrapped in a white quilt I’d found, and covered in my own blood. It was very apparent that this was a serious situation, and they shredded the clothes from my body and put me in a sort of incubator suit with heat pads on my fingers and toes. Even after making it to the hospital and being put in warm blankets with hot air coming in, I did not stop shivering for several hours, but it looked like I was going to be OK. The doctor came in and spoke with me. I had never really taken wool versus cotton into consideration before, but this doctor let me know: “Wool keeps you warm even when it gets wet. If you were wearing cotton, it would have frozen and then you would have had sheets of ice stuck to your body. The wool helped save your life.” I ended up losing all sensation in my hands for several months, but considering how it could have gone, I count myself as very lucky to have chosen wool that day. I continue to wear wool today. If it saved my life, there is a chance it could save someone else’s too. MORE INFORMATION For a full account of Stephen’s escapade, head to the website of US brand Minus33 (Stephen was wearing Minus33 Merino wool clothing) at www.minus33.com/blog “WOOL SAVED MY LIFE” Stephen Jabaut on a return visit to Lake George, New York State. OFF FARM 9
In the Shops - March 2018