Greetings from Norway

On the 31st I took off for this beautiful country for a two week winter survival training with the Norwegian Home Guard. Tonight is the second night that we have been in the field (the mountains of Norway) and let me tell you it has been quite an experience but there is more to come.

Our first day we went dog sledding. It was amazing! I think I need to get a team of my own if we ever see snow again back home.

After that, we skied three kilometers through the mountains to our bivouac site where we set up a tent with a heater stove and built an igloo type wall around it to protect from the high winds. It was the right move because that night a big snow storm rolled in and with it came high winds and low temperatures.

Today, we practiced more skiing skills. The Norwegians are experts and let’s just say I have a lot of learning to do. After that, we did avalanche rescue training and winter survival skills like making a fire, building a lean-to and other hands on training that should get us through the next week.

At this moment I am sitting in front of a fire under a lean-to my team and I built late this afternoon to sleep in out under the stars. I’m on the first shift of fire watch so I have to make sure the guys in my team stay warm until the next person takes a turn and, of course, I have to keep the lean-to from catching fire!

Tomorrow we will be heading to a local body of water where the navy seals are going to force us to jump into a hole in the ice so that we can learn how to save ourselves if it happens. I am both looking forward to that experience, and well, also not exactly in a hurry to do it! After that we will go for a longer ski trip through the mountains and set up a new camp. The next day, we will be building snow huts to sleep in and then the day after that we will be skiing all the way down the mountain.

Although this is the coldest and tiredest I’ve ever been, this has so far been a very transformative trip for me. I’m learning a lot about myself, what my limits are, how much I’m really capable of enduring (more than I’ve ever realized) and more and more about the camaraderie of team work when it comes to survival that’s not in a desert setting. Don’t be surprised if you catch me sleeping on a lean-to with a big bonfi re somewhere back home.

Out of all my experiences in the military, this may be one of the best and most enlightening I’ve ever had. To all my friends back home of Norwegian descent, your motherland is beautiful! The instructors with the Norwegian Home Guard have been absolutely amazing and integrated members of our teams. Th is U.S. couldn’t ask for better NATO allies, and we couldn’t ask for better friends.

After we come back in from the fi eld we will have a couple of days to explore the cultural aspects of this area before heading back to the states. I am really looking forward to a hot shower and a bed that isn’t a mat on the snow.