Snowy Drinking – Because I’m not sure if this actually counts as winter camping.
We did camp out for a night, but it was more of a “We need to get out, blow off some steam and try this out” type of trip. My wife Meghan, our buddy Brad and I tagged along on our neighbor Johnny K’s yearly overnight trip to an undisclosed location. It’s undisclosed because I am pretty sure that we were in some grey-area land that is currently under dispute, or maybe we were just plain trespassing. If we were, I’ll call ‘squatter’s rights’ as Johnny K and his boys have been camping there for years. That’ll work right? Stories of locals passive-aggressively writing on car windows with lipstick to show their discontent were shared with me, but women have done much worse to my car than write on it, so I’ll risk it. This trip was a simple Saturday night in the bush for a bonfire, some drinks and a camp out.
I moved up north of Shelburne, Ontario this fall from the south end of Mississauga. I have met more than a few folks up here and found a few that are into camping. As it happens, a winter camping trip was coming up and we got the invite. We spoke of this trip five or six times over the course of a few weeks, mostly because we keep talking over beers in the garage and we can’t remember what the hell we said in the morning. See, ManCampers tend to find each other no matter where we go. We are magnetic idiots and will naturally congregate together. I found ManCampers as soon as I moved up here.
My wife jumped at the chance to try out winter camping, she has wanted to go for a few years now, we just always seem to busy and never get around to it. Meeg’s has an absurdly irrational fear of bears and doesn’t sleep well on summer camping trips so winter camping should be great! The bears will be hibernating, but just in case, we brought along a 1 liter Hydroflask of homemade Cesar, a bottle of red wine and some RedBull and whiskey, all for her. She is MY wife after all, she can drink. She won’t have much choice but to sleep after all that.
I sorted through all the gear we needed for the trip the morning of:
2 HotCore sleeping bags rated to 0®C (Meh… Should be fine it’s only going to be -15C lol)
2 Thermorest sleeping pads + 1 Wool Blanket
1 Viking Pro V3 (Mine)
1 partner C2 (Wife’s)
1 Tent… shit. Where the hell is my tent? (Somehow we have lost a soldier… our mid-sized tent was lost in the move.) – Rented a 4 season tent from MEC at last minute. Thank you MEC.
2 Freeze Dried Meals (Mountain House Pepper Steak w/ Rice, and BBQ Chicken with Rice)
A metric Butt-Load of booze (Cesears, Revelstoke Whiskey, Bottle of Red Wine (Black Cellars)
Brad met up with me at my house on Saturday morning around 11am. We skipped breakfast and went straight to having a beer before we left. We got on the road and over to the parking lot, which was the side of the unmaintained winter road by about 12:30pm. We jumped out of the truck, each through on a backpack and we were ready to go. Johnny K and his two boys took their time and loaded up homemade sleds to carry their gear. It was only supposed to be about a 20 minute hike in, so I didn’t see the point in the sled. However, these guys did look like they were bringing a lot more gear than we were. I guess we will see.
The sleds were a giant pain in the ass. The steep downhills, uphills, and walking horizontally across both types of hills at times made the sleds look more like each guy was tied to fat man hurling down a waterslide. So glad I opted for a backpack. Even as I awkwardly post holed my ass through the snow, it was still easier than the sleds. After a few fences ducked under, and a couple of mountain climbs, we reached the camp site. The hike was like a slow wintery obstacle course, which included snapping branches whipping you in the face after the person in front purposely walked with their hands in the air to charge the pine-catapults.
We decided to take a hike over to a set of falls before making a fire and making something to eat. We walked along taking advantage of others foot prints in the snow like we were a prison chain gang. Along the way we kept hearing shotgun blasts, get closer and closer. Good thing Johnny K is about 7 foot 9 and in the front of our chain gang. They’ll get him first. All I could think was; The lipstick locals have upped their game and currently shooting out my truck tires. We slid, stumbled, fell and clung to branches to get down to the frozen falls, but it was all worth it. Check out the view where we got there. We didn’t spend to long as the mist from the falls was soaking everyone fairly quickly and with the wind howling a way, it wouldn’t take long to get chilled down to the bone. We had another victory drink, and carried on.
Johnny K, not feeling well turned in early and crawled into his tent. The rest of us were up until somewhere around midnight when the inevitable conversation came up: “What’s a Bear banger?” This is my favourite conversation of all time to have with people. As I was explaining what it was, Brad pulled one out. As Johnny explains from his point of view, from inside his tent all he could think was: No Scot, this is not a good idea. Do not shoot off a bear banger here at midnight.” Bang!!!!! “Yup he shot off a bear banger.. that just happened.”
We woke up early to get a head start on getting out of the woods. Unfortunately Meghan had to work. PS – I was wrong, the tent currently smells of a mixture of feet mixed, with dead carcass of some sort of animal mixed with ass. That’s about as accurate as I can write. We packed up the tent and our gear and headed out, leaving Johnny K and his boys to head out later on in the day. It was only a 15 minute hike out of there, but doing it hung-over with a pack, and worrying about the wife making it, made it that much harder. Dehydrated and still a little drunk seems to be the way I start my days in the wilderness. PS Meghan did the best out of all of us on the way out. She is a tough damn girl.
This wasn’t the most eventful trip, and it wasn’t the -Balls (-44C) camping trip that some people have done. It was just a fun trip. It was windy, it was short, it was drunken and it was camping. That’s all I needed.