Wasn’t much for them to do that morning, confined as they were to the small space between the outcropping and the firs, and when Einar returned from his scouting--hadn’t seen anything of interest, a heavy fog having settled over the mountains--Liz convinced him without too much difficulty to rejoin her beneath the elk hide. Her hopes of getting some snares set out had been rather thoroughly dampened by the fact that, in exploring the confines of their shelter and the timber directly surrounding it, she’d seen no sign of small game, no tracks or droppings atop the snow; without venturing out across the slope in search of some better territory, she wasn’t going to be snaring them any supper. Well. They had things to eat. Would be fine. In the meantime they were there together beneath the hide, Einar for once seeming willing to cooperate and keep still--major warning sign right there, and she ought not have overlooked that as she did, at first--and Liz, still weary from their climb the previous day, did her best to relax and make the most of their situation.
She would have been gladder to see Einar finally keeping still and resting for a significant stretch of time, had he not been so visibly struggling with the cold. Both of them were struggling, actually, would have benefited tremendously from a fire over which to warm themselves, dry still-damp clothing layers so they would once again be available for wearing and perhaps heat a good pot or two of tea or soup. With no such luxury available to them they made the best of the situation, huddling close together beneath the driest portion of the hide and taking turns--the day seeming to grow colder as it wore on, instead of warming--creeping out from beneath its shelter to shave off bits of raw meat, of which there was still a fair amount, in the neck area and crawling back beneath it to warm chilled hands and bodies and nibble at the half-frozen fare as they shivered in the raw, damp chill of the first significant snowfall of the season, but it wasn’t enough, wasn’t working, and they soon consumed nearly all of the bear fat and dried berries in their attempt to keep warm. Liz, at Einar’s insistence, ended up eating the greater portion of the food by far. Seeing that he was drastically shorting himself on rations, she tried several times to insist that she wasn’t going to eat unless he did, but each time relented when he mentioned the baby, her need to eat and keep warm so that the baby could continue to grow and thrive within her; had she not of necessity been so focused those days on the baby, he never would have got away with it. Would have been facing the wrath of her rabbit stick.
Einar--who really might have eaten more had he felt particularly hungry, but his body seemed once again to have passed into the realm just beyond hunger, wasn’t reliably giving him signals that he needed to eat, which made it easier for him to ignore the fact, leave most of his portion to Liz--had hoped the snow would melt, as the day was at least partially sunny at times, but it didn’t, the cold that had set in overnight staying to keep it on the ground, and them trapped. Mustn’t leave yet, lest they also leave too much sign, but Einar knew they’d have to move pretty soon, have to do something about improving their food situation, if they wanted any hope of keeping reasonably warm without a fire… He’d done his best to conceal it from Liz, the increasingly desperate struggle in which he was engaged that day with the elements, the fact that he was having a terrible time keeping himself awake and maintaining anything close to a workable body temperature, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to go on hiding it much longer, would have to either address the matter or quite seriously risk losing a lot more than the already-lost day. He’d known for months that such would be a major challenge for him, come winter, if he hadn’t by that time managed to put on a good bit more weight--which he hadn’t, somehow slipping in the other direction, instead--but even with that knowledge, had not expected it to hit him quite as hard as it was doing that day. Should have anticipated the trouble, he supposed, seeing as he’d spent all those hours down at the hunters’ camp several days prior lying staring up at the wide, beautiful sky without really meaning to, without wanting to, mind drifting along in a happy euphoric haze as his body began edging its way rather unceremoniously through the final stages of starvation. Well. Had pulled out of it, that time, must make the best of it once again, and he was glad to see that Liz seemed to be handling the situation with a good bit more ease than he was; would have really hated to see her in that kind of distress, would have been so very much more difficult than enduring it, himself.
Ok. Move, Einar. Time to go see if there’s any more meat you can shave off the hide, and this time better try having a little of it, yourself. Wasn’t much left, not much at all, and as he crouched there, chin on his knees and arms braced against the sides of his legs in an attempt to still the shaking of his hands, he tried to think, to find some solution to their present dilemma but he couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve a significant amount of track and trail-making, and that’s out. Wait. You’re just gonna have to wait. Made it through one night of this, so you can do another one if you have to, if the snow doesn’t either melt or start falling again before nightfall. Which it’s looking like it may not. Sure, it’s gonna be a little rough without anything to eat, but at least you’re starting out pretty much dry this time, won’t have spent the morning slogging through the rain and snow and getting all soaked and frozen. We’ll be alright…ha! Who’re you kidding? Not much chance you’re gonna make it through another one like this, Einar, not unless you get real serious about generating some heat, here before too long. Getting awful tired. Awful close to taking that final nap. Accidentally. Just gonna lie down if you don’t watch it, close your eyes and that’ll be it, unless Liz happens to notice in time and pull you out of it, which isn’t likely, ‘cause she seems to be taking advantage of this time to catch up on rest for her and the baby, a fine thing in her case, but you don’t have that luxury. Crouched there for a minute--knife in one hand and the little pile of elk scraps he’d managed to scrape up in the other--contemplating it, a long minute, too long, and Liz, who was keeping a much closer watch on his situation than he realized, poked her head out from beneath the elk hide to see what was the matter.
“What’s the matter? You coming back in?”
Einar muttered something unintelligible, pressed the elk scraps into her hand and rose, limping over to the granite wall and supporting himself against it with both hands, leaning his head against it as he shuffled his feet back and forth, slowly at first but with increasing speed as he warmed a bit. Right. Move. Keep at it. Liz thought briefly of joining him, but she had just finally got fairly warm there beneath the hide, and hated to disturb things unnecessarily. Several minutes more of the forced activity and Einar was doing a bit better, his shivering less and a prickle of feeling beginning to return to cold hands and feet, so he kept it up, kept at it until he was entirely exhausted and beginning to be in danger of collapse--which is the trouble one eventually runs into when attempting to maintain slipping body temperature by expending energy one doesn’t really have--at which he rolled back beneath the hide where Liz was holding it open for him, suddenly feeling very light headed.
She watched him for a minute, held him, warmed his hands against her stomach. “Einar, we need to go to the cache. We have to eat.”
He stared dully at her for a long minute, closed his eyes, nodding.