Well, as the title suggests, I have just returned from my first ever solo camp in the snow. Why I said solo I don’t know, I have never camped in the snow alone or with others for that matter. But who’s checking ? right.
I have been planning this trip for awhile. Waiting patiently for the right time where I felt the weather and snow on the ground would be ideal. I was concerned about keeping warm. Yes I know, Its Minnesota in winter, its never warm.
Unbelievably there was a break in the temperature and it had snowed 2 days before. Perfect seeing as it fell on my 3 days off from work. Weather report said 38Deg. as a high and 23 as a low. Perfect for me, as a first timer. I felt Ok. Left work and went home picked up my equipment. (Pre packed about 17000 times over the last month or so.) No seriously it felt like I went through it (equipment) that many times. Nervous you say . Yes I was.
I had some problems over packing my Medium Alice pack. As usual I tended to over pack. I eventually got it down to being able to get it on my back with out pulling a muscle. Not an easy task. It still turned out to be to heavy but I managed. That was one of the many lessons learned on this trip.
The hike in was about just over a mile, in snow. Yes some thing I had not done before. That is backpack in the snow. It was heavy going, and to make matters worst I got over heated and sweated a up a storm. So much so my thermal underwear, and light jacket under my heavier warm jacket was soaked through by the time I got to the camp site. Taking off the heavy jacket just made me cold right away as the under garments were soaked. Lesson 2 learned. Plan your clothing better. Use better layers. I should have taken the heavy jacket off as soon as I noticed I was starting to sweat. However I recovered, cooled down (quickly) and put the heavy jacket back on. All was good. Fortunately the weather cooperated. It was actually pleasant out.
As I said previously, I had been planning this trip for awhile. It was just a overnight camp. I had planned the whole “what I was going to do”. I wanted to video the whole trip for my You Tube channel. Going by the plan, I set up my French Army F1 Surplus 2 man pup tent. Which did not take long, As although I had never actually used it on a camp, I had put it up before for a video review. I will say its a great tent. Although it says 2 man, it was roomy and allowed me to put all my gear inside, while leaving enough space to live and sleep in. That done I started gathering fire wood.
The temperature was perfect and I really would have been fine without the fire . But hey, Its camping and having a blazing fire in your camp site is required. Anyway I wanted to cook my dinner on the fire. I have always used a portable one burner stove. Using my leather gloves I packed (Learnt the hard way, Not having gloves to do wood prep chores around camp.) I went about some basic bush crafting (made me proud to see my research and practice had paid off). I gathered enough wood for dinner and a couple hours of fire time to stare into after. I proceeded to prep it. Using my folding saw, camp axe (Chogan camp tomahawk) and my trusty belt knife ( Knives of Alaska camp knife) I got the wood prepped into the required sizes for making fire. That task completed, without sweating up a storm. I had learnt by that time to take things slowly. Actually more because I am not as young as I was and trying not to get into the sweat problem. Worked out just perfect.
It was my usual walkabout time. I left and did a SLOW walkabout in the snow exploring the local area. How different it looked from my previous visit. Don’t get me wrong, green is good, but all the trees and ground covered in a 3-4 inch blanket of snow was breath taking. I hoped to see some deer and small game as the area was known for this. But alas none about. A lot of tracks but nothing really fresh. I returned to camp and using my trusty Peak one single burner camp stove, I make a welcome cup of coffee.
Did some more bush crafty stuff getting the fire going for dinner and set about making it. This time I had prepared the dinner ahead with some fresh onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkled with some olive oil and spicy spice. Made the boil in the bag rice and cooked the mix I brought. One of the better meals I have camping. So I did do something right. Sat and watched the fire burn out, went to bed and watched a Netflix down load and got a good nights sleep. I was warm and had no issues there. However…
During the night I managed to break the zipper on the bottom of my sleeping bag by my feet. No problem except I had taken a subscriber advice regarding batteries dying in the cold. I put my spares in a small bag with a hand warmer and put them in the bottom of my sleeping bag. They fell out and in the cold they died .Woke up to no batteries and about 5 seconds of recording time. The humanity.
I made a cup of coffee, had some fruit and packed up and headed back to the truck. suffering the same issues I had walking in.
Even with all the issues I had, It was a great overnighter. I am sure Ill be going out again. Hopefully with the lessons learned it will be even better. If you have not done this, give it some thought. Well worth the effort and a great sense of accomplishment. After all I made it back home which is the ultimate goal.
Remember knowledge is a survival skill.
Be safe out there.
If you want to see the You Tube video click on the picture below. or go to my reference’s page and see it in my camping list
The novice survivalist