Thursday, January 1, 2009

Winter Camping @ -27ºF

Monday 12-29-08 (High of 28º low of -2º)
I had a relaxing drive to Itasca State Park where I met my cousin Chip at the visitors’ center. We packed our gear and left later than anticipated heading to our campsite about 3pm. I skied and Chip snow shoed a hair over 1 mile into Coffee Break Camp site. This is a great summer camping venue. (Our location, however, becomes a factor on our second day.) We set up camp and went to gather firewood in a frozen marsh area that summer foragers couldn’t get to. We build a fire and visited in its warmth. Later, I slept well but got cold toes.

Tuesday 12-30-08 (High of 6º low of -20º)
I woke up feeling good and walked around a bit to warm up my toes. Chip and I hung-out at camp for a while and then hiked to the visitor center. We drove to the headwaters did a bit of 4 wheeling in a Porsche Cayenne, another of Chip’s amazing vehicles. The traction and stability control made it a super solid drive through ice and snow.
We spend some time drinking coffee near the fireplaces in the visitor center. To my surprise Michelle, one of the cool teachers from my school, climbs off a snowmobile and walks in. We stayed enjoying the hot coffee then head back toward our camp.
The temperature had dropped and the wind whipped up. We decided to build a fire and spend the evening at a lean-to shelter about a half mile from our camp. Despite two fire locations the wind kept blowing smoke into our shelter so that it was uninhabitable. We went to our camp and build another fire. The wind was coming right off the lake and nailing us on our exposed point of land. I didn’t feel too cold, but couldn’t feel any heat from our fire either.
Going to sleep scared me. The predicted low for the night was -18º. I was nervous about getting into trouble with cold. I didn’t bring my warmest sleeping bag, and felt like I was at my bags limit the night before. I wore more layers. Chip taught me a trick he learned mountaineering. I filled a couple of Nalgene water bottles with boiling water and stuff them in my sleeping bag. I put one by my feet and kept one up by my core. They stayed warm much of the night. I slept surprisingly well.

Wednesday 12-31-08 (Low of -27º high of 3º)
When I woke, I could tell it was quite cold. My thermometer was buried below the printed -20º. It took longer than usual to pack up. Fingers couldn’t handle more than a few seconds outside the mitten zipping or tying, and anything synthetic became stiff. I was unable to roll my tent tight enough to put in its stuff sack. This was not a miserable experience. We just slowed down, packed up and hiked out enjoying our surroundings with new confidences. After all we had Itasca to ourselves. We didn't know until later how cold it had been.


queasyfish said...

What an adventure - one of those fun because it's challenging kind of things. Itasca is a beautiful park, but the five hour drive is kind of a drag.

Heath said...

It was fun for the adventure and just because. The drive was enjoyable. I listened to my music and just kicked back. I hope you noticed the bold on the dates.

queasyfish said...

You can just use the text editor within the blog post for that stuff (the dates) - mine was for editing blog comments where there isn't any text edit. I did notice the bold on your comment above though.

Good work with the text and pictures mixed. I sort of wish I had been there. ;)