Editor’s Note: Writer and cowboy Mark Pendl has been travelling the American West and Canada for the past several years researching his latest book on cow ponies. He’s travelling and living in a horse trailer outfitted with the bare essentials of survival. Read on to experience his blizzard adventure.
I have experienced the bitterness of cold weather; so cold in fact, that you thought you were going to die. Traveling the back-roads of the United States and Canada can place you into some really remote parts of this country. It can be a real challenge in winter months.
New Mexico, the Enchanted State, can throw some bad storms your way. A year ago I buckled down to face one of the coldest storms I’ve known. I was working on the Diamond K Ranch when a hard winter blizzard hit. I live in a horse trailer with little insulation. I can handle a few icicles hanging from the trailer’s ceiling, but what the forecast of this storm offered would test my survival skills and preparations for facing such drama. The weather forecast called for wind gusts ranging from 50-70 mph with temperatures reaching
-40 Fahrenheit. That is too cold for this cowboy!
The storm was forecast to arrive between 1am-3am. I figured there was a real possibility that I could freeze to death. With this thought in mind I began to prepare for at least one last warm night’s sleep. I pulled out all of the goose-down material I had and lined my bed. Flannel sheets and a Pendlelton wool blanket lay on top of the goose-down quilts. To secure final preparations I placed my Lehman’s Buggy Robe and my cowboy oiled slicker on top of the bed.
The storm arrived as predicted. High winds rattled the trailer while frost and ice began to build up on the inside walls. It is amazing what one thinks about in cold of this nature. I thought about death and its possible victory in the approaching hours. I relived my life from my birth to the present moments-confronting a blizzard -40 below and 70 mph winds. To my astonishment, while in bed I was warm; I slipped into a bliss called dreamland.
I slept so well that, of all things, I forgot about the storm. In the morning, I sat up in bed and started laughing. I had three inches of snow on top of the bed and a foot and a half drift of powdered snow covering the two cattle dogs (Toby and Maya) that travel with me. The dogs were fine. I had covered them with extra sleeping bags before I went to sleep.
We survived! It was cold for the next four days. The warmest I could keep it inside of the trailer was nine degrees. With temperatures of nature inside your living quarters it is best to tell yourself “things can’t get worse.” Everything inside and outside of the trailer was frozen. I had to place my food inside my Yeti Ice Cooler to keep it from freezing. I had a quarter of inch of ice on the inside walls and foot-long icicles hanging from the trailer’s ceiling.
There were three items I want to mention that I believe played a major role in keeping me alive. They were: the goose-down materials; The Yeti ice cooler; and Lehman’s Buggy Robe. That robe has been on my bed 24-7 ever since i began my travels three
years ago. One of the most important factors about this item is that it repels water and breathes at the same time. And, in my case, it was truly a lifesaver!
Editor’s Note: Check out our Pinterest Page for more great ideas on keeping warm this winter!