Winter Camping Workshop

February 8, 2012


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

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I know it’s hard to feel any regret that winter’s on its way out with the weather we’ve been having. The snow is melting, I can see tulips waiting in the wings for that first really warm day to pop up through the soil. On the West Coast it’s been spring since long before the winter Olympics. But I want to take this last chance to show some photos from my new hobby: ice climbing.

I had the opportunity to get out with some great teachers and climbers at the very end of this year’s season, but it was just enough for me to get hooked, and to get some great photos (and a video which will be ready for the public very soon).

Jan 23, 2010 – Mt. Misery, NB


Mt. Misery


In January I had my introduction to the world of ice climbing.  We walked across the frozen Kennebecasis River to a place that goes by the (totally reassuring) name of Mount Misery.


Graham Waugh


I was told that ice climbing is usually very cold, and you have to ‘brave the elements’.  If these are the ‘elements,’ that’s fine by me.




The ice forms where the rock would typically be very wet in the summer.  Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 11, 2010 – Truancy Falls, NB

Truancy Falls

Graham told me about this pillar, and that I should really be there to film it when they climbed. Of course, I had no interest in climbing it myself. This was pretty advanced stuff, so I was happy to stay on the “ground.”

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Feb 20, 2010 – Ice Fest, Minister’s Face, NB

The day after our trip to Loch Alva, Graham and I once again crossed the Kennebecasis River to Minister’s Face for an annual ice climbing celebration, “Ice Fest.”  Ice Fest is a day of climbing followed by a slide show party where everyone shows their climbing photos from the previous year.  I showed my video about Ice Climbing in New Brunswick which will make its way to the web very soon.

As we got closer and closer to the cliffs on the other side, they never seemed to be getting any closer, just bigger and bigger the whole time.  On the left is an ATV, and if you click on the photo, you may be able to see a truck on the right hand side where the ice meets the rock.

Ice Fest

There were plenty of people around Minister’s Face so I knew if my turn would come, it wouldn’t be for a while, so I headed down Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 21, 2010 – Parlee Brook, NB

Parlee Brook, a true winter wonderland

We returned to Parlee Brook on February 21st, but this time to climb Parlee Brook proper.  Winter hangs on up in the hills here, and the snow clung to the branches like metal shavings to a magnet.

Parlee Brook

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Taking Back Winter

March 1, 2010

Loch Alva

Feb 14-19, 2010

Paul Maybee

Graham Waugh

Winter: a great time to stay indoors.  Or so I thought.  For so many years, I have restricted my wilderness adventures to three seasons, but this year, I had a change of heart, or maybe I just changed my mind, and decided to go outside.

Day 1: Feb 14

So Graham Waugh and I planned a camping trip in the Loch Alva area which had intrigued both of us since our trip in to Turtle Mountain in May.  Looking out across the hills and lakes from Turtle Mountain, we wondered what other mysteries lay hidden in the green valleys and hills.

Robin Hood Lake

We quickly found a good rhythm walking with the sleds, and because of the well used snowmobile trail heading up the hill, Graham found it easier to go without snowshoes.

Mawhane Mountain Lunch

Mawhane Mountain Lunch

Winter travel is all about layers.  Once we got going on the trail, the layers come off, and as soon as we stopped for a bit of a lunch on Mawhane Mountain, they all go back on again.

Turtle Mountain

The wind has brushed all the snow from the top of Turtle Mountain.  It feels good to be back here, and I’m reminded of that wonderful trip with Graham and Ross in May.  It is especially exciting Read the rest of this entry »

Day 4: Feb 17

snow water

The next day was to be another day of exploration. We woke up in the bog, and found ourselves right next to the Miner’s Trail. Graham had noticed it last night and mentioned it to me, but I said that of course, it was just a stream, followed by, “but I’ve been wrong before.” Here, Graham is melting snow for our drinking water for the day.

Miner's Trail

Yup, that’s definitely the Miner’s Trail.

To earn our breakfast, we scurried up the Miner’s Trail a short distance and climbed a tree to get a nice view. Read the rest of this entry »