I finally got a chance to head to the hills and do some winter camping.
I put this in the winter camping and not trip reports because it has nothing to do with lightweight backpacking and more to do with winter camping. This is also the first time I took my son winter camping. The trip was meant as more of a learning experience and as such was close to home and not very long while I tried some things out.
My original plan was to go on Monday. But I couldn't find a good place to go with enough snow. However, on Wednesday December 29th, Utah was hit with a good winter storm, and we got lots of snow. So, I grabbed my stuff, my son and my dog and pulled the sled into a good spot.
Here is the sled I used. It is one I made with 2 downhill skiis mounted to 2X4's and plywood. I made it last year with the scouts.
The sled proved to not be as good as I hoped. More on that later.
Here is my son next to the sled after we pulled it to our camping spot.
The canyon we went to has a gate at the entrance. In the summer, it is a well used canyon with RV's and car campers. However, because of the gate, only snowmobiles and hikers can get into it. You can still camp, you just have to walk. Luckily for us, snowmobiles had packed the fresh powder. We dragged the sled on the packed trail fairly easily. However, once we hit the powder, the sled became a boat anchor. I decided to camp about 1/4 mile from the gate due to laziness. We stopped at a nice RV site with picnic tables and lots of snow.
Here are some deer we saw.
My dog tried to chase them, but they were way too far, and she soon realized she couldn't get them. Silly dog.
Here is a picture of me. This is the best I can do with an 8 yr old taking it.
I am wearing a wool blanket jacket my wife sewed for me, mil surplus wool pants, army cold weather boots (not extreme cold weather mickies) and some OR gaitors. The wool clothing proved to be very warm and comfortable. It shed the cold fluffy snow well, and also did a good job blocking the wind. And, of course, it breathed exceptionally.
Here is our campsite in the morning.
I used an 8X10 tarp for a shelter. It snowed all night with a good 2 ft accumulation. The overnight temps were between 10 and 20F. For sleeping gear, my son used 3 sleeping bags two sleeping pads, and my army gortex bivy. He was perfect under the tarp. I didn't have another bivy, and just used my normal winter bag. Both of us were very warm, however, I got a lot of snow drift on my bag during the night. If I had gone for two nights, I would have had to do some serious drying. I think I pitched the tarp too high. I also think a bigger tarp would have been better.
The next morning, we had a hard time pulling the sled through 2 ft of powder. It took me a good 3 hours to travel 1/4 mile. The sled did not float at all. I probably loaded too much as well, but I had to pack for two. I definitely need a sled that floats on powder better.
My daughter got a new camera for Christmas and I didn't realize she took pictures of loading us up to go home. These are all taken inside the van by a 9 yr old.
I got my dog a carting harness from Black Ice. It is the same as a freight harness (has the spreader bar in the back), with the addition of a chest strap with loops for the cart bars. I want her to pull a cart in the summer and this way I only need one harness. I ordered it the Saturday before Christmas and received it the 23rd. That was fast.
Another thing I learned is that if I want good pictures and video of me, I need a tripod and not rely on an 8 yr old.