Late February came around as Tobal and Tyrone snowshoed their way to the gathering spot. He dropped Tyrone off with the guards to be prepared for his initiation. There were going to be three initiations that night.
Nikki had proclaimed her newbie, Bran, as ready to solo and he along with Loki and Cheryl had been examined and approved to solo by the elders. Nikki was ecstatic because the winter training had gone pretty well. She was looking forward to training her next newbie.
"Hey Tobal", she asked, "Think I can get my six trained by mid summer? This winter training isn't really that bad."
"That might be cutting it kind of close", he considered, "but go for it. I'm hoping to get mine done by May if I can."
"Yeah, when the weather gets warmer I can speed the training up a bit. Or at least I hope I can. Next month will be one year for me. Rafe was finished in one year. I thought I could too but I don't think I will be able to."
"It's more important to do a good job and teach properly than get done quickly", she said.
He nodded, "I did need to spend some extra time before winter with Melanie and Sarah. I will just see how the last one goes."
"See you later at circle?"
"Sure", I'll probably be with Becca if I can find her."
He waved and headed for the food area. A quick lunch seemed in order and then helping out with some of the shelters. There were a lot more people this month and the weather was milder even though the snow was deeper.
There were some minor frostbite cases for the medics to treat but not as many as last month. It seemed people were learning they had to be careful. On the down side one of the clansmen had fallen through the ice on one of the creeks. He had managed to get out but not been able to get a fire going. He had frozen to death before the medics got to him. There were more medics at camp. They were going to have a memorial service. Angel had had found him and been unable to help. It was already too late.
The incident served to remind everyone just how fragile and dangerous it really was in the wilderness even with all the safeguards that were in place. The death put a damper on things and people were quiet.
He saw Ben and hurried over to greet him.
"Hey, congrats on the solo", he said. "How did it go?"
"It went well actually", Ben replied. "I was really surprised. I got lucky and found some deer herded up on the way to my camp area. I shot a nice buck with the bow and towed it on my sled to camp. Then later since I already knew where they were herded up I went there and got another. No real problems."
"How about wood", Tobal asked with a grin.
"Wood sucks", Ben admitted. "Getting firewood without a decent axe or saw is frustrating and difficult. Just about all you can use are branches unless you take the trouble of splitting the logs with wedges. Plus you need bigger logs to hold the fire. I ended up cutting some logs, splitting them and then cutting them again for length.