While saying goodbye to 2017 and welcoming the new year, it was only proper that I mark the occasion by camping. I spent the last day of 2017 and the first day of 2018 in a chilly winter wonderland in Algonquin Park, with some of the awesome people I’ve met through a shared passion, a love and respect of the outdoors, that brings us all together.
I arrived at Mew Lake early Saturday morning. It was cold with windchill temperatures expected down to -40 according to the Weather Network.
Upon my arrival, people were still snuggled up in their tents staying warm, but I was busy setting up my campsite. I would be joined by my friend Joyce from Go Outside and her friend Jamie. Joyce had never winter camped before, and after a fair amount of coaxing, she finally decided to take on the challenge. Due to this fact, I had decided to set up both my tipi, and my new backcountry hot tent.
I set up the tipi due to the extreme cold temperatures that were expected. This tent would be used so that Joyce would be able to have a warm place to make her meals, and also for friends to come and visit and have a place to get out of the cold and warm up. I had only been on site for a few hours before the latter happened.
I first received a visit from my friend Sue, from Sue’s Outdoor Crew, who was staying in the yurt next to me. Shortly after my new friends Dave Wilfong, Steven Claxton from Claxton Canoe and his girlfriend Amy came by. We sat in the tipi that was warming up slowly, had a beverage, and some great conversation. Shortly after my friends Derek Specht and Mike Burns’ family came by to say hello and I even saw a moose!
Eventually I got the hot tent set up, with some modifications. On my last trip in Killarney, I noticed a huge difference in temperature from halfway up the tent, to where I was lying on the ground. The temperature halfway up the tent was 29°, meanwhile where my head would lay on the pillow was only 3°. Due to this, I brought a cot that I had at home that I use for another set up, with the hope that I would be able to use it in the hot tent. I took the air mattress out that belonged with it, not realizing it is part of what makes the cot work. Using the plywood that I generally put under the stove I managed to rig up the cot so I was still able to use it. I was going to be much much warmer sleeping here tonight.
Joyce arrive later that afternoon, and her and Jamie, set up their tent and got settled in. After we solved some issues with a tripping breaker, we were ready to enjoy the cold!
I headed off to visit some friends spending a good part of the evening with Mike and Derek, who I went on my last canoe trip this season with. Mike’s wife Laurie created these cute little snowmen for some special drinks she brought for us to have during the weekend. Sadly the snowman would live to see another day. 😢
I spent some time by the skating rink campfire visiting with some friends and called it a night around midnight. It had been a long day and I was excited for the last day of the 2017 and the festivities to come.
It was quite chilly outside, but I was nice and warm and cosy in my hot tent. I woke up around eight and heated up my pre-cooked breakfast on the woodstove, a cheese omelette, bacon, and an english muffin smothered with strawberry jam. I received a message from my friend Sean, advising me he was in Huntsville and would arrive in approximately an hour. I went over to the Tipi and quickly got a fire going and turned on the heat, so it would be warm for Sean’s arrival.
He arrived shortly after and we sat and had a good chat and I gave him a tour of the set up. Soon after people started waking up and popping by for visits.
We headed out to take a tour of the campground and see who was out and about, coming across Mike and Derek, and their families, on their way out for a stroll.
We continued on and stopped in for a visit at David Wilfong’s’ site and checked out the collection of snowshoes.
We made our way back to my site so I could check on Joyce and see how she was getting along? I found her and Jamie in the tipi preparing a gourmet breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. Yum!
I also received this note from some friends who had stop by which I thought was super cute.
I hadn’t seen Melissa in years and I knew she was here to visit Mew falls. I asked Sean, Joyce and Jamie if they wanted to head out there for a peek and they said sure, so we got our stuff together and headed out for a hike to the falls.
Along the way, we ran into Terry Thomas and Kim Burrell Lavelle, who we invited to join us on our hike.
Even though it was bitter cold, and some of our eyelashes were freezing, we had a great time!
As we were out by the airfield and that is where Terry and Kim were camping, we stopped by to check out their set up, warm up with some fireball, and sit by the fire and defrost ourselves for a little while.
Once we were sufficiently warmed, we headed back to camp. After a few visits along the way, I stopped by my hot tent to prepare my dinner. Tonight’s dinner would be two garlic shrimp skewers, some roasted asparagus, and a lovely striploin steak, a fitting meal to end an awesome year!
The remainder of the evening was full of good cheer with great people! I spent some time with Jack and Paula hearing about their summer adventures out west and checking out some amazing photos they brought to share.
I witnessed a wicked light show put on by Derek and his kids. Had a few drinks with my good friend Sue and got to spend some time with Jon from Backcountry Custom Canoes.
2018 was brought in the right way, standing around a roaring campfire with some of the best outdoors people I know.
And before we knew it, 2018 had arrived and it was time to head to bed. It was extremely cold and I was looking forward to crawling into my nice warm bed in my cosy hot tent for a few hours before it would be time to get up and start packing to head home.
I started the day off right with some hot, stick to your ribs oatmeal, accompanied by some rehydrated apples and strawberries and a delicious hot chocolate. Then I got to work tearing down. I had had an amazing time, but I was very much looking forward to going home and being warm and inside for a while.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of the same week, I had been on a backcountry trip in Killarney and the temperature was ‘feels like -44’. I had left that trip not feeling well and a day early so that I would have two days at home to recover, before heading to Algonquin. My health had definitely improved, but I had not completely warmed myself back up after that trip and I was looking forward to getting into a nice hot bath when I got home.
Harvey, the park warden, came around and handed out a sheet to everyone listing the temperatures from the weekend, a certificate of sorts to show that we had survived yet another extremely cold weekend at Mew Lake. With my car running thanks to Dan, Sue’s husband, who had to boost my vehicle to get it started, along with several others, I finished packing the car.
I said goodbye to my brave friend Joyce who not only completed her first winter camping trip, but did it in some extremely cold temperatures. I was so proud of her and honestly, couldn’t believe she stayed the weekend, and even seemed to enjoy it. Way to go girl! Congrats!
Happy 2018 everyone! May this year be your best year yet, full of love, laughter, and lots of amazing outdoor adventures! If you would like to get in touch, please leave a comment or send a message and say hi! Thanks for checking out my post!
*fireside photos extracted from video taken by Terry Thomas, please see the youtube video for the full clip. You can see it early by clicking here.