Several people who walked past the site I was staying on at Mew Lake, Family Day Weekend, said that it looked like a little village. This got me to thinking about it, and the differences betwen winter camping vs the remaining seasons. When you’re camping in winter it really is just like we are all part of a small village. There is a great feeling of community among all of the campers. We are all temporarily living in the same neighbourhood, share the same bathroom, warm up in the warming tent together, have a great passion for the outdoors, and share the same struggles and challenges as people that belong to a community do.
Above, I said ‘the site I was staying on’ because I actually didn’t have a site days before heading to the park. I was booked at MacGregor, but unfortunately my campmates weren’t able to attend, so a very nice father and daughter, Chris and Victoria, who I only met camping New Years Eve, offered me a spot on their site. This is just one example of many, of the great kindness and generosity of winter campers. One of the definitions of community is: A strong fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. This totally describes our weekend at Winter In The Wild perfectly!
Speaking of strong fellowships, above are a few pictures of Duane & Marian’s site. They are huge winter campers, are full of knowledge and from what I’ve seen, the heart and soul of Mew Lake campground. These fantastic people, their four kids and two dogs are the true definition of a Canadian outdoors family and they are a huge part of the glue that unites and holds together our winter village. They are the reason why I ended up spending my weekend at Mew Lake, also the reason that I purchased my wood stove and a big inspiration to myself and many others. Thank you both for your total awesomeness and for providing many of the photos for this post. You inspire me and your enthusiasm is totally contagious and I look forward to many great adventures with you and your tribe. 🙂
When someone needs help, he or she must mainly rely on the other village members. Sometimes it is not an option to leave the village to get that help as you could be snowed in, your car battery could possibly be dead, (or frozen), or the help you need is just too far away to be the best option. This is another thing that makes winter camping so amazing and such a different experience from other season camping. The photo above was taken by Duane Sonntag and is not photoshopped or created to look this way, it is something that actually took place and what was done to get one of the campers batteries unfrozen so their vehicle would start.
Help could be found everywhere this weekend. Paula and Jack brought their brand new Artic Oven tent to Winter in the Wild and had just barely gotten everything in time. Both avid outdoors people, they were anxious to set up Jacks new birthday present and join many hot tenters camping in the park this weekend. Unfortunately the damper somehow reversed itself in their stove during the coldest part of the weekend. The spark arrestor got competely clogged with creosote and that blocked the smoke stack causing the smoke to go inside the tent, but some friendly knowledgeable neighbors Don and Jim came by to help them get things fixed up and working properly again.
Another great person residing in our village, Terry Thomas, was offering shelter, hot drinks and food to cold winter campers. Terry, hasn’t been winter camping very long, but he has the winter camping spirit in full force! Not to mention a really amazing tent. When a fellow camper found themselves in need of a place to sleep, Terry eagerly offered up a spot in his tent! On Sunday Morning after an extremely cold night, he posted on the Alognquin Park facebook page offering his tent to warm up in and hot coffee to anyone in need, totally generous and oozing community attributes! Thanks to you Terry, for helping make this weekend a great one!
One of the most awesome things about Winter in the Wild is that some of the most experienced campers spend the weekend at Mew Lake and are part of our community. These people have been winter camping forever, know all the best tips and tricks and are incredibly experienced. It is the best time to be at Mew Lake if you are interested in winter camping and a great time to pick the experts brains and see all the demos that are up and tour them. Here are just a few of the amazing dwellings that resided in our awesome little village.
Some people camped in trailers:
And some, like myself, stayed in tents:
My favorite demo of the day, was an Igloo Demo put on by Algonquin Outfitters using a tool called the Icebox. I, of course, had to crawl in and check it out for myself!
And when we finally all got very cold and tired after spending the day hikng, snowshowing, skiing, exploring, skating, playing hockey, checking out other tents and all the other outdoor activities we could fit into our day, and we needed to get a bit warmed up, the warming tent offered us comfort and a communal place for our community to commune!! LOL
Photo credit for all above warming tent photos: Marian Sonntag.
When I camped New Years Eve at Mew Lake I met the most awesome people! We shared stories, embraced the slight cold together, and bonded over our passion for the great outdoors. The experience is something I have never really had camping in any other season and I was curious if it was just the way things aligned for me that weekend, or if it was winter camping in general.
Now, after spending a very very cold long weekend at Mew Lake in Algonquin park Family Day with record breaking low temperatures, I have decided it is definitely winter camping that causes this reaction. I have honestly never met so many wonderful generous adventurous people in my life and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to spend time with such a large number of outdoor enthusiasts who share many of the same passions that I do. I’ve met more people in the two weekends winter camping, that I have in my entire life of summer, spring and fall camping combined. I am ecstatic that I have not only tried, but fallen in love with winter camping and the people who embrace it!
10 Things only winter campers will understand:
1. People who don’t winter camp think you’re totally insane and do not understand why you do it?
2. You belong to a very unique group of individuals, who don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t do it?
3. When you say your car battery is frozen, fellow campers will put their woodstove in front of your car to unfreeze it.
4. Random strangers will offer you a spot to sleep in their hot tents and/or will offer you a hot drink or meal even if they don’t know your name.
5. You are ecstatic when the temperature rises to -22 !
6. Everything plastic you touch snaps and breaks with the slightest pressure applied to it.
7. None of your lighters, batteries, or electronics work, as it is too cold for them to function, and you don’t really care if they do.
8. You not only know what hair frost is, but have had it and seen it regularly and it seems strange not to have it.
9. Putting chapstick on your entire face is totally acceptable.
10. It is completely normal to loose feeling in your fingers and toes for sections of time and it no longer scares or worries you in any way.
I really hope you enjoyed my post! If you were at Mew Lake Family Day weekend and have a story or pictures to share, please comment or send them to me, and I will happily add them. As this post was about Mew Lake Campground (aka village/community) I made it a communal post and asked many of the people I met and know to contribute their own photos and any stories they had to share, as one person, does not a community make!
HUGE THANK YOU TO Harvey and the entire Ontario Parks Staff for their amazing efforts in keeping us all from freezing, for boosting cars, getting our hydro working and the hundreds of other jobs they do every single day to make our camping trips awesome!!! We are all eternally grateful to you!
Click here for my post on my personal experiences, challenges and adventures from Family Day weekend at Mew Lake! Where I Survived Mew at Minus 42 in a summer tent! Also containing LOTS of pretty pictures and a hike to Starling Lake Lookout!
Thanks so much for checking out my post!