4/15/2008

Late Winter Adventures



Hello fellow trail buddies, when I think back in my youth as a boyscout, the idea of even trying winter camping seemed utterly crazy. Camping in the winter was always done from a cabin with the rest of the scouts mostly sitting around by the fireplace, with a hike out to do some sledding, practicing fire building skills outside in the cold and then feeling cold enough to go inside to warm up by the fireplace. The idea of sleeping out in the cold in a canvas tent where one would feel the temperature that much more - well, didn't set in with me in my youth. As I grew older and bolder in my outdoor skills, reading and seeing pictures of winter diehards that were actually doing the winter camping appealed to me many years later. Now here living the Alaska dream, the experience has played out and was well worth it. The first thoughts going through my head were both filled with excitment and craziness. Through educating ones self on proper equipment, such as, sleeping bags that go down to below minus 20 degrees, self-inflating sleeping matts, to winter clothes, has made my experience all that much more memorable. Camping with others supports this winter adventure that much more. From March on into early April, the weather isn't as cold, yet still cold enough up in the mountains that it still feels like winter. You can have the best of both worlds. Down on the flat lands snow is all but gone, yet retreat to the mountains and winter is still alive. As the sun sets over the mountains the temperature drops. The fire crackles and pops and there is no other place to be. If you're lucky the stars will come out in their full glory. There's something about a roaring fire, seeing your breath and looking up at the stars while having great conversations, it all seems well worth it. Needless to say, it's quiet, cold and you're snug in your sleeping bag staying warm.
Another side of the outdoor camping experience you might not have even considered is digging out and making a snow hut . Of course you will need some deep snow for this adventure. Remarkably, trying this wasn't as bad as I thought. The air matress insulates you from the ground as well as the warm bag. Crawl in, light a candle - home sweet home! It's these types of experiences that define each and everyone of us who choose to live the outdoor experience. Though I must admit, I wouldn't pass on my rocker by the fireplace. Now I can sit, stay warm and reflect on my outside camping experience. Soon for us break-up will be here and once again, I will be in a very busy mode, with all that spring produces such as birds and waterfowl returning. I hope whatever late winter adventure you choose, it will be something that you have never tried before or maybe you have always wanted to test your abilites - go for it!!


Hey see you down the spring trail somewhere watching for wildlife,


Buford T. Porcupine

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