Wilderness Medicine Case Study 69
You are en route to a backcountry lean-to managed by the forest service in the summer. Although the current temperature is in the low single digits after a cold front moved in early this afternoon, the weather yesterday was warm, above freezing, with bouts of hard rain. The snow is crusty and heavy on the forest road leading to the hut. You are two days from your car and it will take another day to reach the lean-to. You are carrying two weeks of supplies and hoping for new snow and fresh tracks after you reach the lean-to.
When you arrive at the forest service campground two of the shelters are occupied by a high school group who have been touring in the park the past week leaving an older, half-buried one for you and your friend. After setting up camp and eating dinner, you wander over to the high school group to say "Hi." They are starting to eat dinner when you arrive. The leader, one of the school's teachers, tells you much of their gear is frozen from yesterday's rain. You notice that a student is huddled in their sleeping bag in one of the shelters, everyone else is eating dinner. The group leader tells you the student, a 15-year-old female, was very cold when they arrived, immediately went to bed, and said she wasn't interested in dinner. While your gear is dry, you can see that many of the students' sleeping bags are frozen. The group leader is concerned about the drop in temperature and unsure how to keep the students warm at night.
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