There is nothing better than spending a night outside in the woods. Doing this in winter is made more fun by the challenge of the environment. The setting this year was a short excursion to Jack's Lake just off the Bedford exit of the Hammond's Plains road.
Like all Gonzo trips, this one started at a Tim Hortons. Bruce Murphy picked me up at 4:00pm on Saturday and we headed out to the Tim Hortons in Bedford. There we met Mark 'I'm Sellin Halifax' and after waiting a little bit to see if Bernie would show up at Tim's, we decided to head out to the trail head before it got too late. We arrived at the trail head a little after 4:30pm and quickly loaded ourselves up with our gear and about 15-20 pounds of dry wood before starting our short hike in to the campsite.
The woods were, as the woods always are in winter, story book beautiful. White crested trees and an absolute stillness in the air. The scenery is the main reason I enjoy winter camping so much. I find it makes a fantastic therapy for the winter doldrums.
The temperature was about -5 and dropping but I had no trouble keeping warm, carrying the wood took care of that (much more effective than burning it). Once we arrived at the site, a nice little open spot next to the lake, we quickly got started on setting up for the night. An excellent opportunity for me to test a backlog of gear I had been accumulating since last September. I arranged the tarp to sleep 4 while Murphy and Mark got the fire started. About this time Bernie came into camp. He found our cars at the trail head so he knew we were there.
We had supper then and settled in for the night around the fire. On top of the usual fire place discussions, Murphy pulled out a printed copy of the Robert Service poem 'The Cremation of Sam Mcgee' and read it aloud to us all. An appropriate choice of verse I thought, as we huddled close to the fire.
Like Sam Mcgee, I felt like jumping in to the hot coals. It was something like -12 to -14 around this time.
Thirty minutes before calling it a night, I boiled some more water and poured it into my Nalgene bottle which I then placed inside my sleeping bag to preheat it. The temperature never got any colder that night though and the next morning was actually up to about 0. For the most part, nobody seemed to have had a cold night. It was interesting to see the body imprints that were formed from the heat lost overnight through the foam pads.
The next morning we had coffee and some breakfast and made our way out. On the way out we kept seeing this black dust on the snow around the melt holes. Bernie stopped, and on closer examination, it turns out the specks were moving! Seems that the dust was actually very tiny insects called snow fleas. There were whole snow banks that were just black with them.
On the way out we stopped at Timmys again for a coffee. After which we parted ways. All in all a good trip.
Things Learned on this trip.
1. Thoroughy clean and check stove. A stove which works with minor problems in + temperatures may not work at all in sub zero.
2. Beer is not very appetizing when you are really cold.
3. Bernie still has the coolest hat.
4. Spicy Italian Smokie sausages and canned beans are tasty but they do tend to lower the air quality for the people around you.
Spig AKA "G.I. Joe"