Winter Camping on Parent - Cold Slush and Warm Memories!
I slept in until about 8am and Rachel was able to watch the sun rise right out our tent door! I had set an alarm for about every hour and a half to stoke the fire. That worked well. Also, we stayed dry and warm all night with our sleeping bags and double sleeping pads. We had coffee - Rachel made it and it was excellent - and then oatmeal and egg scramblers. We were real low on firewood so we decided to spend the next hour or two gathering firewood. If you've never winter camped before, it's much less luxurious/glamorous than summer camping. Simple camp chores are hard. You need to gather a metric ton of firewood and then a little bit more *just in case*. Then you drag it through 2 feet of snow in like 7 layers of clothes. It's tiring. But, that kind of tiring makes you feel alive. You never are bored or doubt your purpose in life. Your purpose is survival and then once you've checked that box, you can spare 30 minutes for play ;).
After chores were done, we decided to hike to the other side of the lake - the deeper side - and set out our tip ups. Still no bites! This theme continued throughout the weekend. It was a beautiful day though and Rachel and I enjoyed watching our German Shepherd, Luna, play! Once we were back at camp (after moving our tip ups back close to camp), we had a super picturesque camp fire near our camp and talked about our personal and professional goals for 2020 and where we would like to go next in the BWCA (Knife Lake). The fact that Rachel still loves doing this while being pregnant is incredible to me and definitely proves that we are soulmates! We cracked a bottle of Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice and polished it off. It was a perfect way to enjoy the sunset and watch our tip ups not "tip up".
For our New Year's Eve dinner we pan fried venison chops in our pan on top of the wood stove, had Shrimp Scampi, garlic bread, and green beans. Rachel and I love to eat well on trips like this. It makes all the hard work worth it! After dinner we played 2 person Sheepshead - a great 2 person game if you haven't played. That's what these trips are all about for Rachel, Luna, and I. We get back to the basics and just enjoy being together and spending time with one another without distractions. The temperature dropped quickly to probably around 0, but we still went out to check out the stars. They were incredible. We could see Orien and the Milky Way really, really well. That night we heard both the ice growing and trees popping. There is no more deafening silence than the wilderness in the dead of winter.
A couple of takeaways:
- Bringing two stoves was a good idea. Our little MSR stove wasn't working well in the extreme cold, but our Coleman propane stove had no issues. - Using a thermacell sleeping mat, and then our Sea to Summit blow up sleeping mats on top of that created a good barrier between us and the cold. We both have 0 degree sleeping bags, which I think are a must if you are winter camping. - I have no idea if it was Parent Lake, the weather, or my presentation, but we didn't get a single bite on tip ups tipped with rainbow minnows. I figured we'd at least pick up a stray pike or two, but we didn't. I should have planned out my fishing a little more. - An outdoor campfire while winter camping is always a highlight.