I’m not an Infantryman. I’ve never been part of a grunt unit. But I’ll be spending the next month with them in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I’ve been attached to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment as they complete their cold-weather training evolution.

I’ve never been to Bridgeport, CA before either. As I understand it, it is the only place in the United States that offers high altitude, cold-weather training to Marines. In my mind, all I can imagine is Mount Everest with a barracks building halfway up, where we will acclimatize to the high elevation the first week.

My entire Marine Corps career has revolved around the desert. Since boot camp to my first and current duty station at Twentynine Palms, the only things I’ve been taught and thought I’d need to be prepared for involved hot weather and sand. And I grew up in Los Angeles, so snow is completely foreign to me.

The Battalion outfitted me for the next month in the snowy mountains. I received my cold-weather gear, half of which was almost extraterrestrial to me. Some of it I recognized, such as the fleece tops and bottoms. But other things took me by surprise.

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