One of our favorite winter games is to do Winter Tracking Adventures. After a virgin snow, one person goes out ahead of the others, perhaps with a 20 minute lead. The ‘quarry’ tries to leave a confusing trail, using tactics such as backtracking, balancing across logs, burrowing under the snow, or leaping down hills. At the end of the 20 minutes they hide (preferably in a place where they can watch the trackers wander about on the hunt) and wait for the trackers to come. If the quarry can mislead the trackers for a stated amount of time, the quarry wins.
Last week Rebecca helped me dream up a more advanced version of this game, which I then prepared for ‘S’, one of my Metamorphosis clients. In this scenario, ‘S’ was in charge of tracking a child that was lost in the woods. I went out early in the morning to set the tracking-trail, and since ‘S’ is an excellent tracker, I made things challenging. Very challenging. The track was laid over extremely rough terrain, and I used just about every trick in the book to throw her off the trail. Wherever I left a near-impossible trick that ended in a dead-end, I’d leave a little joke in the snow . . .
‘S’ had about six hours before nightfall, which was our window for finding the lost child. In the end, she was successful, and we came back home just as darkness fell. The more I think about her adventure, the more impressed I get. I remember just last autumn how quickly she tired in the woods. During this adventure, however, she plowed through snow that was often thigh-deep for six hours, going up and down hillsides, climbing up steep ravines, and picking through creek bottoms (where stones and logs lie buried beneath the snow). During the entire trek, she had to be constantly aware, watching my track patterns to see if I had backtracked, and trying to unravel the track-puzzles when the trail seemed to simply disappear.
I don’t think I know of many adults 40+ who could have hacked it. It’s a real challenge to maintain enough mental clarity to follow those puzzles during a six-hour intense plow through the deep woods (keep in mind that this is a longer intense sustained energy level than many people experience when running a marathon). Because she wanted to leave the quarry’s tracks unmarred, she usually chose to have us walk through virgin snow, which made things even tougher. By the end, my old Turkey-Chasing knee injury was giving me a tough time, so she broke trail during the trek home to give my knee a rest.
This was the longest, most exciting tracking adventure I’ve ever had with someone. We got home for some hot tea and told Rebecca and Mirabelle all about it. Yipeee!
If you’d like to play the Tracking Game yourself, you can find more detailed directions, along with some ‘track tricks’, on this post — Tracking Game.