Column: Dogsledding flashback and dressing for winter conditions

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

I will never forget the one and only time I photographed a dogsled race in the Cariboo.

I don’t actually recall much of the event itself, but I do remember the burning cold sensation in my hands afterwards.

The temperature was hovering around -30 C that day, with a colder windchill. I had gloves with me but they weren’t camera user-friendly, so they had to come off.

I remember losing feeling in my hands well before the cold zapped my camera’s batteries. I bagged my lenses after the event, hoping to avoid moisture damage as my red fingers cupped a hot beverage in a warm coffee shop, and told myself “never again.” Or at least not without being better prepared for the weather.

Prompting this memory was a post recently making the rounds on social media about a parent of a teenager whose fingers suffered frostbite after a 45-minute walk home from school, without gloves, in -25 C.

I don’t know if it’s my current age, health, an overall lack of winter ruggedness or all of the above, but in that kind of cold, unless I’ve got the heart going strong with some sort of physical activity, I wouldn’t want to be outside for more than 10 minutes – with gloves on – let alone 45.

The frostbite story about the teenager certainly prompted comments from parents who were struggling with their own kid not dressing to weather conditions.

Read more: School buses cancelled again in Cariboo, where coldest place in B.C. hits -48 C

Read more: Freezing cold stresses need of drop-in centre for Salmon Arm’s homeless

Read more: British man returns to Yukon to tipple his own toe in long-running tradition

I know my wife and I often see youths making their way to school in the snowy winter cold dressed in as little as a heavy shirt or hoodie, jeans and runners. Over the past week, during our morning drive by the middle school, the students I saw appeared to be well dressed for the minus-twenty-something temperatures we were experiencing in Salmon Arm.

Those extreme cold days aside, I understand parents wanting to protect their kids, but I also know the school experience comes packaged with its own social demands/pressures. There’s also that whole faster metabolism thing.

Of course, freezing temperatures don’t stop people of all ages from jumping into Shuswap Lake on New Years Day in nothing but a swimsuit. I’m pretty sure I’d rather photograph dogsled racing again than do that.

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