Winter Camping Workshop

February 8, 2012

“Crazy.”

That’s the most common word I hear when I use the words “winter” and “camping” too close together.  And even if you’ve read other posts here where I’ve used “winter” and “camping” together and know that my idea of winter camping involves a tent, a sleeping bag, with sleds and snowshoes, you may be just about to (as I did) learn a new word that can be used instead.  That word is “hot”.  And you use it like this: “Hot winter camping.”

And although my idea of camping has always been about stripping away the luxuries of our modern lives to get down to what is only essential, and thus- supposedly- finding some hidden truths about our selves, this new concept has captured my attention with some force.  Allow me to clarify.  Anyone who has gone on trips with me know that I do not skimp on food.  Not. At. All.  But I do try to bring as little else as I can get away with by sleeping in a hammock (about the size of a grapefruit when packed).  And to be fair, my food is usually all dehydrated. Perhaps my luck has made me smug.  Thinking back on my winter camping adventure in Loch Alva, the weather was beautiful, and the temperature never dipped below, say -20 C at night and was almost always -5 C during the days.  It only takes one night at -25 C in a -12 C sleeping bag to realize you need to change your ways if “winter” and “camping” are to remain good friends.  Like I said, I have learned a new word.

Group Dynamics

On January 21 and 22, 2012, the Outdoor Educators of New Brunswick put on our 2nd Annual Winter Camping Workshop in Mactaquac Park near Fredericton, NB.  We extended last years session to include an overnight so the skills learned were not just hypothetical, but put to the test in a real winter camping situation.  We weren’t met with conditions that would allow us to be smug and think, this is no problem.  At -23 C, real danger exists.

Bur Wins

After packing our gear on to sleds, we all strapped on skis with Bur Win bindings (which allow you to use your winter boots!) and went for a warm up ski around Mactaquac.

Team Work

Then we pulled our sleds to the campsite.  I pulled the double axle sled (part way) with the poles for the wall tents.  This year we had two tents, so this setup was twice as heavy as I remembered.  We needed some teamwork to keep this rig right side up.

Food is so important

Food.  I could talk about the importance of food when winter camping for hours.  I’ll just say this:  Food is extremely important, especially in winter!  It is the fuel that keeps the fire burning.

Teamwork makes it happen

Burying camp water- so it won't freeze!

That’s right, the snow is a wonderful insulator, and water buried in the snow will not freeze.  Make sure you bury it lid side down, or else the lid will freeze shut.

Let me introduce the team to you.  These are the Outdoor Educators of New Brunswick:

Beth Johnston

Nick Brennan and Merredith Brewer in Merredith's "office"

Ian Smith

Moon Joyce

and myself, Paul Maybee

It took a lot of hands to get the wall tents set up, but what a beautiful sight!

Wall Tents go up

We love a good puzzle

And once camp was made, we rewarded ourselves with a lovely ski around the point through the hardwoods.  What a gorgeous day for winter camping!

The Point

Once the sun goes down, and the stoves are going, the glow of the canvas against the starry sky gives us a warm feeling, right through our boots, mitts and scarves.

Wall Tents aglow

Pretty civilized for camping

Candle Lantern fending off the cold

Under Orion

In the morning we all gathered around a hot breakfast and heard quite a range of experiences with the cold cold night.  When we set up a small “civilization” away from home, we create more than a place to sleep.  We begin to create community very quickly.  As we packed up, we played games, and joked like we’d known each other for much longer than 24 hours.

Ninja game

Working hard

And finally, as we pack the poles onto the truck, we take back with us the skills we learned, a few more friends, and the great feeling that comes with being active and spending time outdoors.  Even in the winter, camping can be…  a walk in the park.

See you next time!

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6 Responses to “Winter Camping Workshop”

  1. Anonymous said

    Great stuff man. It was an enjoyable frosty weekend. Always good to increase the survival knowledge base. I was happy to learn some new useful tips for cold weather camping.

    Nice write up and awesome pictures.

    Hope to see you on the trail sometime.

    From: Candle lantern guy

    • gypsyproductions said

      Hey! Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed the photos. My favorites are the ones of your tent glowing under Orion! I’m always glad to learn something new too! Hope to see you around!

      Cheers!
      Paul

  2. claire said

    Paul – beautiful night pictures!! really stunning. I hope sometime I can join you on such an adventure….

    – little sis.

  3. Graham W said

    I love it! Wish I was there.

  4. Julie said

    These pictures are beautiful! I’m considering venturing into the world of winter camping soon – working up the nerve! I recognize someone from your team (Nick) from summer camp years ago – so strange to stumble upon a familiar face! Tell him an old friend (Julie) from Quispamsis says hi!

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