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2023 Arctic to Atlantic Winter Semester Blog #1

Greetings from the 2023 Winter Semester!

The 2023 Winter Semester: Rebecca (instructor) Matias, Ian, Laura, Bria, Isaac, Lilah, Cole and Ely

Welcome to our blog, where we’ll be giving updates of our adventures as we go along.  It is almost the end of our third week here, and we’ve settled into a daily rhythm at basecamp: 

6:30  We are awake, packing for the day, and stretching with a little yoga.

Morning yoga.

7  Chores begin: There are many things that need attention to keep the community and farm running .  Each week we’re assigned a task, like lighting cooking fires, feeding animals, or doing laundry that we slowly learn to do independently as the week goes on.

Ely and Isaac on a ski.

8 Breakfast! We sing and take a moment to be thankful for our meal, and then fuel up.

9 Academics start: Topics range from map reading to local forest ecology, from poetry to tent making. Most recently we had a detailed explanation of New England’s geology from our guest teacher, Roger Haydock. 

Personal power: Isaac generating power at Chase’s Mill (with our amazing guest teacher, Bob Brown).

11 After stretching our minds, it’s time to stretch our bodies.  In preparation for the coming treks, we practice skate and backcountry skiing around Kroka’s woods or locally.  It’s not uncommon to hear whoops and squeals of joy as we zip through fresh pow, hitting “sick turns” on the way down.  While we all have different amounts of experience, we’re all new to learning the art of the telemark turn.  That hasn’t stopped us from totally storming the hills though!

1 Lunch & showers

2 Afternoon academics: sometimes this will be a continuation of that morning’s class and sometimes it’ll be something new, like learning to sew with Emily or Stephan. 

Laura learning to finesse the sewing machines.

4 Little jobs: in addition to chores, which the whole community helps with, we also have small responsibilities specific to our group:  Things like ferrying food to and from the Big Yurt, replacing firewood, and dehydrating food for the trail.

5 Study Hall in the Big Yurt.  This is time to finish academic assignments, and journal about the day.

6 Dinner! This meal is cooked and eaten in the Big Yurt, rather than the Farmhouse.  Sometimes, we might even have a little hot sauce to go with it.  One piece of etiquette here: you must lick your bowl!  It cleans it for those on dinner cleanup duty. Plus, how else are you going to savor all the butter put in by Sir Nicholas, Strong Arm of Paul?

Working on hand drill, blindfolded with partners, with guest teacher Tashi.

8:30 Evening Meeting: We share announcements and go over the plan for the next day.  We’ll also share about our day in some way, like something funny that happened (like Ely forgetting to remove their mask in the shower), or something we’re grateful for in nature. 

9:15 Bed. The Femme Fatales leave for the little hobbit hole, while the Cholu-lads take the Yurt.  We stoke the fire, change, pack, and quietly slip into sleep.  

That’s an average day at Kroka! On weekends we’ll find a little ski or cultural excursion, but our days roughly follow this pattern.  As our departure date for the Green Mountains looms closer, our preparations, and excitement, increase in intensity.  


Why I am Here

I am here
to escape the loud dullness of old routines
for warmth of heart
to sit in a yurt, lit by oil lamps
and headlamps, and listen to
the cries of an owl, far off in the woods
as I write

For difference and change

To sit on a cold rock in the woods
watching the intricacy of emotion
inside and nature outside
for warmth
so lacking in the normalcy of society


Ely joyously sliding downhill.

Kroka Basecamp/Allstead Church
Day 7
Snow, heavy in the evening
southwest breeze
high 20’s-low 30’s
overcast, high clouds

Today we went to church to study community in the area. We walked there and back and talked to the people at the church. The pastor gave a sermon and after that was over we had some snacks and coffee in a different part of the church. Then we walked back, and along the way we visited a local bakery and there were some weird boxes making noise. Later in the day we went on a small expedition to the Beaver Pond and learned a bit about breaking camp in the snow. My skis broke halfway through, so I had to trudge through 2 feet of snow for most of the time, but it was fun nonetheless.


Laura and Cole on a daily ski.

Wood Splitting Tips

  • spread legs apart
  • be mindful of the people around you
  • keep the log on the back of the chopping block
  • follow through with each swing of the tool
  • bend knees with each stroke
  • be intentional with how you aim the ax.
  • Focus eyes on certain point on the log
  • wear close toed shoes or boots
  • realize that the ax will naturally follow the grain of the wood


Cole in the log yard.

Kroka Basecamp
Day 9
Light dusting of snow
Low 30’s; W wind in the evening
Clear horizon, altostratus clouds all day

The snow was mounded high again with another morning of shoveling. It feels good to start the morning with purposeful work. Even when we’re busy, people are joyful here. Or calm, really. Roger, a guest teacher from western Vermont arrived to give us a thorough lesson on NE geological history. VT and NH have drastically different soils. New Hampshire has much more acidic soil than Vermont, pushed up from deep sea mud millions of years ago, which is ideal for conifers like balsam fir and red spruce.  The difference in soils is why conifers are found in lowlands all around New Hampshire, but only on the barren peaks of the Green Mountains (made of limestone) in Vermont. 

He brought floor-spanning maps and great enthusiasm, which we matched as we looked at the types of geological areas we’d be passing through. The rest of the day was bushwhacking on backcountry skis through Cold Hollow Pond and the surrounds woods. It looked like we passed quite a few bogs, with plants I didn’t recognized except for the sphagnum moss and red osier dogwood. There was something that looked like blueberry, but might have been highbush cranberry? Oh, and another mystery was solved: despite being much further south, fir and spruce are the dominant conifers here, rather than hemlock. In VT, they’re indicators of cold, poor soil and high altitude. But Vermont’s mountains are upwellings of that same acidic rock, and have little to cover it to the compete with these trees. So in NH, they’re able to thrive much further south, not because it’s colder, but because the soil is acidic. I wish I could have taken in everything Roger mentioned!


Lilah and Bria in the forest.

Kroka Basecamp/Pat’s Peak
Day 10
Snow starting midday
High 20’s-low 30’s
Southwest wind in morning, evening shift to east wind
Partial crescent moon, waxing
Stratus clouds

Today was speed. We hammered through chores and Nathan’s map class, then we loaded up the van went to Pat’s Peak! We practiced our skinning as we ran up the mountain two times. Bria and I were neck and neck running on our skis, fueled by PB&J with granola and pure excitement. We got to tele ski all over the mountain! It was so rad. Telemark is a little different than what I was used to but it was nice to change it up. After hiking the runs, it was so rewarding to ski down. I think this is my life now.


Ian leading the way on a beautiful afternoon ski.

Kroka Basecamp
Day 12
No precipitation
High 20’s; Light W breeze
Big, scattered cumulus clouds

This morning we were back into the routine of morning yoga and then into chores. I enjoyed talking to Lindsay about my aunt and uncle’s strawbale house while splitting wood. Later, I was very excited to learn more from Stephan while he was here and to begin sewing the fly to our tent.

Stephan, from Tentsmiths,  teaching the art and skill of sewing a new winter tent fly.

Laura, Bria, Lilah and I started to sew the panels of the bells together as Ian, Ely, Cole and Isaac cut more panels. It was really nerve wracking to be sewing such an important part of our winter kit, but having Stephan there to ask questions was amazing.

Ian, Matias, Lilah and Bria, cutting out the triangle-shaped pieces that will become the new fly.

After our break for skiing I was mentally and physically shot, but more sewing was to be done. Stephan ended up  helping us finish the first peak/half of the the new tent fly. I hope I was able to absorb enough of Stefan’s knowledge to do a good job finishing the fly.


Matias honing his telemark turn.


This morning for chores I started building a shelf with Nathan. It will be used to organize the very disorganized “Mickey Mouse” boots. Trish and Ian made super yummy breakfast burritos for breakfast. For class, Liz came in and we had a really great class about the s/hero’s journey. Then we went to Granite Gorge for downhill skiing, otherwise known as uphill skiing. I went up 3 times. I felt pretty powerful. Granite Gorge is a small mountain but it is decently steep. I ended up falling quite a bit, and now I have some pretty epic battle wounds (small bruises!). Now, I don’t know what dinner is, but I sure am hungry!


Lilah making telemark turns.

Kroka Basecamp
Day 18

Gratitude. How grateful I am for all I get to experience. I’ve always been told to be thankful for all I have. But today I felt it in a new way. I’m so lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had. I’m so lucky to be here today. To be moving my body. To be using my body for good, for others and for myself. I get to wake up and watch the sun come over the hills. Great us for the day. I get to eat delicious food, listen to live music and laugh with friends. Sometimes home still haunts me though. All the mistakes made…

Bria learning to telemark turn.

Watching the sun say goodnight
is such a special time
as it dips below the hills
leaving us with darkness
leaving us with moon and stars
watching night after night
as the moon 
going through phases
just simply existing
what a beautiful life we get to live


Sunday evening letter writing in the Farmhouse.

Until next time,

2023 Winter Semester