Posted by: kimmeroo | March 3, 2013

Hot Camping

Early in February we headed out on our first winter camping trip of the year. The destination was a spot near Batchewana Mountain north of town. We have camped there before, and had a particular spot in mind. Nice and sheltered, and near a little creek so we could get water without having to rely on melting snow for water (which is a major pain the butt).

This was a hot camping trip – i.e., we brought our canvas tent with woodstove. I believe I have previously asserted on this blog that the hot tent is a wonderous thing and that I am so over cold winter camping.

Um, so about that… the hot tent IS a glorious thing, once we’ve arrived in camp. There’s nothing better then chilling out and reading in a nice warm tent in the evenings. Setting it up and getting firewood is definitely more laborious than a regular tent, but nothing crazy.

What is starting to seem a bit crazy is getting the tent from point A to point B. We carry the tent, stove and much of our gear on this beast right here:

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It’s a pretty typical rig for winter traveling. A long skinny toboggan with a long skinny duffle bag on top. Load. Pull. Simple. Sounds easy, yes? Well au contraire my friends, according to Conor it is roughly akin to dragging a corpse. In fact, if you ever want to catch Conor in a bad mood, come find him when he’s been pulling this baby for a few kilometres.

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There is the odd time it pulls (relatively) well. On packed snowmachine trails it can be okay. On hard packed lakes it will slide well. But any hills or any fresh snow and it becomes almost impossible to move it. Conor is a pretty darn fit guy, and he describes it as the hardest physical labour he has ever done. He’ll have to lean into the harness with all his weight to get the darn thing moving.

The problem is, when we camp we like to travel. If we’re too limited in how far we go we’ll tire of it pretty quickly. So while we haven’t given up on this type of camping, let’s say that it’s on probation. In the meantime, we’re trying to figure out if there’s anything we can do to improve this method. We’d like to try some other toboggans to get a feel for whether ours is actually just a lot harder to pull than others (Conor is actually winter camping with others this weekend so hopefully he’ll get a feel for some other ones). However, another possibility is that this type of travel is just not suited to our area. It’s idea for extensive lake travel, but that’s not what we’re dealing with around here, for the most part. We’re dealing with hills, and lots of them. Even when we’re going lake to lake, they’re smaller lakes with challenging portages in between.

Sooo we’ll see what the ultimate verdict is… in the meantime, let’s not forget the rest of the trip! The plan for this one was to basecamp for two nights and tour during the days, so toboggan-pulling aside it was still a great trip.

I skipped out of work early on Friday and we headed in that afternoon. For the record, although Conor pulled the toboggan both Jack and I each had our own backpacks.

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We set up camp at the end of this lake (I took this pic from near our campsite).

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Here is our humble abode for the weekend.

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Like I said, it’s awfully cozy in there in evenings!

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There was actually a near disaster as we were setting up camp. The elbow on the stove pipe broke, and we briefly thought that we would be packing up and skiing back out in the dark. Wonderful. Fortunately Conor managed to jerry rig it and make it useable for the weekend, but we were more cautious and didn’t stuff the stove with wood before going to bed.

The next day we did a big tour. We knew that another gang of skiers was coming in to camp on a nearby lake, so we planned the route to intersect with their camp on the way back to camp.

Navigating:

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Jack was his usual snow lovin’ self.

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Sunday morning we had a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs.

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And then we skied to the peak of Batch Mountain.

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And then I stopped taking pictures. But we skied most of the day, got back to camp in the mid-afternoon, packed up, headed out, and got home Sunday evening. First winter trip of 2013 in the bag!

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