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#156313 - 10/25/11 08:47 PM why winter camp?
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Someone said that winter camping offers less appeal as you get older. I stopped to wonder what is or was the appeal of winter camping? smile besides the obvious like few people, white snow winterland, crisp cold air, skiing to camp, and clear cold nights with the stars above... smile

Anyway I'm thinking my original attraction to winter camping came from the thrill of being somewhere sort of dangerous and new and unknown, and doing crazy things. We would dive off the end of our "camp" into 4 feet of snow and crawl through it and climb snow piles that are trees in the summer and slide off them. Pretty much the same reasons I became a boy scout, took up rock climbing, skiing and dating. smile

Now I look at winter camping and mountain travel as subjects I am well versed in and they no longer seem so exotic nor challenging so going just to say I was there is no longer a valid pusuit.

I DO love to winter camp and I guess I do more winter camping than summer camping. I love setting off in the snow on skis with a pack. Lots of times if I'm alone, I wait until 10:30 or 11 pm to drive to a snow park and ski in by headlamp. Note this is sasquatch, wolf, mountain lion, coyote, bear country. I haven't yet run into anything while night skiing, but I'm sort of preparing myself.

Why do you winter camp?
Jim smile
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#156320 - 10/25/11 09:46 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
No bugs.


Seriously. I enjoy winter camping for the same reasons I enjoy camping in other seasons. The tranquility, beauty, sounds, etc... of the outdoors. The winter season provides a different scenery from the other months but I enjoy the outdoors in all weather, and seasons. The woods are a place of peace and calm for me. It is my sanctuary.
_________________________
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#156324 - 10/25/11 10:27 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Well Jim, I like to set up camp before it gets too cold, so most of the time I'm in my bag early. I guess I like to go because not many go bping in the winter, so you become more of a minority. Last New Year's Eve, I was trying to meet up with Andy, barely missed where he camped for the night I found out the next morning, had a report of sorts here last winter. I snowshoed in with temps in the single digits early evening, but it warmed up a tad by the time I made camp. Most of the hike in was in the dark, had dinner with my feet out my tent, using one of my old stoves to heat water for dinner, feeling great that I finally stopped and had camp set up. A different experience for sure. You get tired of staying home all the time, so going out for a night in the snow makes you appreciate the warmth of the woodstove and being bored at home.:) I'm set to have at least one night bping every month again this year like I did two years ago. December can be tough.
Duane

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#156327 - 10/25/11 11:40 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
You got wolf up in Bend? Didn't know that.

D Tape and Duane said most of what is in my head. I find solitude and beauty in all four seasons (or whatever we get in San Diego). I don't mind running into people in the wilderness, but I perfer getting out away from the crowds. Plus, I live in San Diego; you can hear the freeway at 3am if your window is open. It's real nice to go somewhere where there is actually silence. Plus for me, snow is something I have to drive to; its still kind of novel to spend some time camping in it.

I will spend a few days near Idyllwild this winter. Not Oregon, but its only 2 hours away. Still working with the dog on hauling a pulk.

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#156328 - 10/26/11 12:01 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: skcreidc]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Dude!, I can leave on foot/snowshoes from my place and head up a few miles to a spot to camp on a weekend night in Nat'l Forest land. I have done that a few times the last few years. Real easy on gas and I still get away from my few neighbors. My neighbors on the other side of the creek from me have their land bordering NF land, I'm that close. Nice.
Duane

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#156331 - 10/26/11 08:52 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
In Texas/Arkansas/New Mexico I prefer winter camping to any other season. No bugs, it's rarely freezing during the day, and the night skies are at their best, and I sleep better in the cold. Weather can turn your trip into a wet sloggy mess, which is about the only downside.
I'll be hiking the desert in a late November because its cooler and less people are out there in early winter.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#156337 - 10/26/11 11:01 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Dryer]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
I have said this before- there is winter and then there is "winter". Winter camping in Wyoming was a bit on the severe side. You needed special gear and then it was more survival than camping. Winter camping in more moderate temperatures is easier. Here in northern CA, winter is the best time to backpack the coast because summer is fog season. But the one thing uniform about winter camping that I do not like is the lack of daylight. And the farther north you go, the worse it gets. I just get tired of so much darkness and tent time. I recently bought an IPod Shuffle so I can listen to books on tape. It helps, but all that down time still is boring to me. I simply no longer have the appropriate gear for serious winter camping and after years of living in severe winter areas, I am happy now to avoid snow and go to the coast in the winter.

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#156341 - 10/26/11 01:04 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: wandering_daisy]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
WD, is this what bping snowbirds do, head for the coast?:)
Duane

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#156348 - 10/26/11 02:10 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That's why I don't winter camp. The nights are just too long! Up here it's dark 15 hours a day in December and January. I also got turned off winter sports after I ripped nearly all the ligaments in one knee x-c skiing 20-some years ago. I dayhike at lower elevations, but no camping for me from mid-October to early March. I can take 12 hours in the tent, but no more.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#156350 - 10/26/11 04:42 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: OregonMouse]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
Those long nights are definitely the biggest downside for me. I try to time my winter trips with the moon cycle. A full to near full moon reflecting off the snow can light up the woods almost like it is day. In fact, I awoke once at 1am and thought the sun had risen already.
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#156351 - 10/26/11 05:35 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: DTape]
ppine Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 184
Loc: Minden, Nevada
Dtape,

The moon changes everything. In areas that are not too steep skiing at night without a pack is very freeing. It is fun to look for fur-bearing animals with a headlamp.

Many people do not seem to care for fires, but a fire at night in front of the lean-to is one of my favorite outdoor experiences. After going to sleep and waking up in the middle of the night, it is great to watch the snow roll in.

None of this is possible closed up in a conventional tent.

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#156354 - 10/26/11 05:47 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: ppine]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
ppine,

so true!
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#156364 - 10/26/11 08:52 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: ppine]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
mtnsteve in Anderson,CA used to do moonlight XC ski trips with friends in Lassen VNP and last year he said, hosted his last Winterfest in the same area. Yep, those long nights are the one thing I don't like about snow camping. With that said, off in a week for a overnighter into Lake of the Woods in Desolation Wilderness after a half day of work and the short drive to get my permit. Hoping the weather holds for one more week.
Duane

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#156372 - 10/27/11 12:09 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: OregonMouse]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I'll agree on the peacefulness and nice scenery, but one of my favorite things here is actually *light*.

it's dark really early in december/january here. and light pretty late in the day.. so for a long time you don't see much sun working indoors. Unfortunately the best bright clear blue days are also the coldest.. So deal with that -30 and get sunshine smile

I find with a good camp and good bag I am *comfortable* in instead of just surviving, I like it for just the relaxation value. staying up "late" and sleeping in till the sun will arrive again. I also tend to "camp" more than "hike" which is pretty much the complete opposite to my pace outside of winter.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#156414 - 10/27/11 09:54 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
long winter nights are one reason that I may wait until 11pm to ski in and be set up by midnight, if I'm solo. Around here the local ski club will have hot cider and coffee at the trail head by the time I get there... smile but I always make coffee anyway. Melting snow and brewing coffee is just one of the things I love about snow camping. If I go with someone else we want a lantern and a deck of cards and perhaps other forms of adult entertainment.

phat
the times that I've been out when it was below -25 it was not for fun. crazy I didn't really need to know that -40C = - 40 F shocked and BTW my sleeping bag was rated at +32F laugh but I had a snowmobile suit and a down jacket and a piece of rabit fur to put over the hole in my mummy bag and to be against my face. Of course now I can say that I've bivied at the base of the Eiger the day after Christmas, but at the time it didn't seem reasonable to be there...

No bugs - well fewer bugs as some seem to manage to survive regardless. However I have had a different problem pop up in shallow snow - mice that are not yet hibernating and extend their burrows up into the snow. They make a series of 3 foot hops across the snow kind of like a skipping stone and they can get into your food. I often hang my food 5 feet off the ground to keep the "go-atters" from munching on it.

Oh and birds. They change in the winter. I love the alpine grey jays. They will some times land on the tip of your ski or if you are sitting in the snow taking a break, they will land on my ski-pole standing upright in the snow by me. We get a lot of black headed junkos as small winter bird, and the quail seem to be present all year as are stellar jays and flickers.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#156420 - 10/27/11 11:56 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
well, that's just the thing. a nice -15C or so rated pile of down, and a good overbag or larger synthetic bag on the outside works great for me. I do wear full fleece and a balaclava inside.

Or you could drop the cash for something fantasitc like a WM puma, however I've never decided to drop enough cash for one. A bigger synthetic bag over a good down bag works for me well into the -25 to -35 range. Gotta have a good two or three pads underneath you too tho.

But for me really, part of it is I did grow up camping in temps like that, and well, I know what it takes to have a reasonably comfortable night *for me* (and it matters a lot by the person) frankly, knowing that is half the darn battle to know you're gonna be able comfortable and enjoy yourself, and that even if you get cold, you can get warm.



Edited by phat (10/29/11 10:33 PM)
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#156472 - 10/29/11 10:34 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
One thing I have always enjoyed about camping in the snow - winter or spring - is that you can have what I call the feeling of being "out there" so much more easily. To me this is a sense of isolation and remoteness, of being in a place where few people ever go. In the summer it's hard to find a place that has that feeling, but when the snow covers the ground it's just a short distance from the road.
Plus, it's always so interesting to see a place in the winter that you've seen in the summer, and to appreciate the enormous difference.

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#156473 - 10/29/11 10:47 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Paul]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
To follow up on Paul's comment, in a park like Yosemite, which is overrun in the summer, in winter, above the Valley (which is always crowded), you see hardly anyone and you can camp almost anywhere as long as you are off the road and out of sight. You won't have the Rangers coming along to chase you away. Do get a permit, though-they are free. They just want to know you are out there and have proper gear.

One advantage in Yosemite-free parking at Badger Pass. You put a copy of your pass in your window and if you overstay your time, the Rangers will see your car in the lot and come looking for you.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#160299 - 01/13/12 11:20 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
Blue_Ridge_Ninja Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 98
Loc: North Georgia
Better vistas, no creepy-crawlies, no pouring sweat, fewer people, lots of sunshine. And no need for snowshoes or special gear here. wink

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#160533 - 01/17/12 12:17 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
"Ditto" to the peacefulness, lack of crowds (and bugs), and the beauty of winter scenery. I also find it easier to get around in winter. On snowshoes or skis I can take off in just about any direction and go over terrain that might be impassible, or at least very tedious, the rest of the year. Using a pulk, I can take in a large tent and bulkier winter gear but actually be more comfortable than if I were carrying it in a pack (and, much much faster if on skis). Add to that the ease of making a flat spot for the tent (just stomp one out), and all of the fun things you can build with snow (kitchens, trenches, igloos), and you get an extra layer of creativity and flexibility on campsites.

Now, if we could only just get some snow this year in California... ;-)

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#160541 - 01/17/12 03:40 AM Re: why winter camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
More than anything, here, it's the ticks and chiggers that keep me out of the forest from late Spring to early Autumn, so that's why I do most of my camping in the Winter. Overall, the Summer's here in the Ozarks are awful for backpacking.

Dryer pointed out that camping in AR in winter isn't all that cold, and I usually wait til we're having a warm spell to head out and then it's pretty darn nice.

I love waking up warm and cozy in my sleeping bag when it's still frosty outside. I'll poke my head out and look around, glance at the sunrise, the frost on the ground, the fog, and then snuggle in and snooze and dream until it warms up a bit.

One of the things I love to do is sit and soak up the sun. On a day in the 50s-60s you can peel off your shirt and zip-off pant legs and sit on a boulder soaking up the sun and it feels wonderful after being cooped up during a cold gray spell.

And I love sitting by a campfire in the winter at night. The air is clear and the stars are bright.

I'd say that winter camping here, when I do it, is not much different than the Sierras in the Summer out west. The temps are often close to the same, the water is always cold, and the air is clean and clear.

To be fair, I've never seen so many stars as I have while camping in the Sierras above 9000ft in the summer. If I could, I would wander and explore there all summer long.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#160548 - 01/17/12 01:22 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: bmisf]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Hay Steve! See you at Lassen maybe in a few weeks? How's the rug rat?
Duane

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#160550 - 01/17/12 02:07 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: hikerduane]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
Maybe...sure want to go! Just have to work out how we can do it with him (maybe stay in the same B&B down the road we used for last year's Winterfest). Hope to see you, Maria, MtnSteve, and more!

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#163234 - 03/03/12 07:29 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: bmisf]
immortal.ben Offline
member

Registered: 09/10/11
Posts: 91
Loc: Arizona
Snow-covered views, few bugs, great temperatures, even fewer people than my usual wilderness adventures, and that wonderful quiet that only surrounds my camp at night when its winter.
_________________________
Life is a verb.

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#170184 - 10/06/12 03:59 PM Re: why winter camp? [Re: immortal.ben]
Brotherbob12 Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 71
Loc: Sweden
I winter camp because:
Its beautiful.
I like to be able to master difficult situations.
We have 5+ months of snow season.

The darkness of December and January is challenging, but come March and April days are long and the sun warm.

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