Winter Backcountry Camping with Shirley – Testing out my new BCC Sled!

I met Shirley a few years ago in the go home like parking lot. I was there to do an interview with Shawn James from my self-reliance and she was on her way out of a trip.  We chatted on social media throughout the years and have met a few times winter camping at Mew Lake.

A few months ago we decided we should do a winter camping trip, so we planned one for this weekend. We met at the go home lake parking lot and got ready to head out.

Shirley brought her hot tent and stove and cots and I barely needed to bring any gear. I was totally lost because I’m used to bringing a good portion of the items for camping, but not this trip.  Shirley had all the things and more!

It was a beautiful day temperatures expected to be about 2° during the day down to a low of -9 with the windchill overnight. We had sun in the forecast and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful weekend. We loaded up our sleds and soon were on our way to find a site.

I was using my brand new custom sled made for me by Backcountry Custom Canoes, yes, the same people who make the canoe that I used the last 2 summers.  I was excited to test it out and see how it would do.

Shirley and I walked for a while with the sleds and then saw an area that might work. We left the sleds on the side of the trail and walked up to check things out.  The area looked great, but the hill to get up it was a doozy.  My sled managed to make it with the help of Shirley pushing it from behind and me pulling it from the front, but Shirleys was a bit too full, so we just unpacked it at the bottom of the hill and carried up the items individually which didn’t take long at all.

We had arrived. Shirley started to set up the tent and I assisted in any way I could.  She has a Snowtrekker and it was cool to see how it was set up and all put together.  I had never slept in another hot tent and I was excited to see what that would be like.

Shirley had the tent set up in no time and soon after we were filling it with cots, our sleeping bags, pillows, chairs and all our gear.

She had also brought a small string of battery operated Christmas lights and some candy canes to decorate a tree. I had mentioned to Shirley that I wanted to bring a few things to shoot a holiday greeting video and she went all out to ensure she had all that would be needed and more.

She set up the stove and got a small fire going to warm up the tent and then we sat outside in the brilliant sunshine and ate our lunches.

Once we finished lunch, we put away any food and hung it in the ursack, just in case, and then headed out on a walk about to check out the area.

We headed back to the trail which here is a road that is used mostly be campers and snowmobiles in the winter time.  We walked along and headed towards a small waterfall that I remembered from my trip here last year with Sue.

It was a great day to explore.  Some water was frozen and there were icicles and some was still fluid and moving.  The sun was starting to drop and it was in the perfect place for photos and both Shirley and I got our fix.

We walked around for a few hours and I even contemplated going for a swim, but alas, the pond was frozen. LOL

Shirley had never been down the road this far in this direction before so I told her we had to go see the icicles.   They were located right next to the area where Sue and I camped last year and I knew exactly where to find them.

The icicles were pretty awesome and we spent some time checking them out and taking photos and videos of them, then continued on our way.

As it would be starting to get dark soon, we began heading back to camp.

After we returned to camp, I brought out the Christmas pickle ornament I packed to play Hide The Pickle. I thought it would be a fun activity to do while out here and I was right.  I took off and hid the pickle while Shirley was in the tent and then gave her hot, warm and cold indicators as she walked along. I clearly made it much too easy as she found it very quickly but it was good for a few laughs.

Shirley had brought some drinks along, knowing from my videos which kind I liked and let me pick first even though any choice would’ve been perfect.  She was extremely thoughtful and I was very glad we had decided to go on this trip together.

We enjoyed a beautiful pink sky sunset and took a few photos before heading into the tent to get dinner started.

For dinner, I had brought some of my homemade chicken stew.  To accompany it, I brought some garlic naan bread which I fried in butter, a little trick I picked up from my trip to Killarney with James and Dympna a few weeks ago. It was a good match and dinner was delicious.

After dinner,  we hung out in the tent and shared a few drinks while chatting about trips, and gear.  We told stories and had a lot of laughs and an overall fun evening.

Eventually, it was time to call it a night and get to sleep.  I was super comfy cozy and had no problem at all heading off into dreamland.

I woke up several times in the night to put wood in the stove and use the bathroom. (hahaha).  Around 730-8ish, we both got up to start our day.  It was gorgeous out, not too cold and the sun was shining brightly.  I snapped a few pictures and got breakfast started.

For breakfast I was making ham, egg and cheese sandwiches on english muffins. Since Shirley had brought her tent, stove, and a good amount of the gear, I suggested I make the meals and was more than happy to do so.

Cooking on the wood stove was always really easy and Shirley even offered to take photos and videos for me!

Once we finished breakfast and cleaned up, we got ourselves ready for the day. We packed up all the gear that we didn’t need and left it inside the tent and just left the tent and wood stove set up.

We packed some snacks, water and a few other essentials and decided to follow the footsteps that went through our site and see where they would lead us? We assumed it would be a hike around the lake which looked like it would be very scenic, so off we went!

We crossed a beaver dam which was interesting as there was open water in the centre. I was pretty surprised I didn’t get a soaker as I’m famous for doing stuff like that, so I took my time walking over it.

Thanks to Shirley for taking these photos of me while we were out on our hike!

We continued following the footprints around the lake, into the forest, up over rocks, through bushes and trees and wondered where these people were heading.  After about an hour we were pretty sure it wasn’t around the lake, but where we were actually going was not very clear.  Regardless, we charged forward enjoying the gorgeous scenery along the way.

On a lot of the lakes and ponds we’d passed we saw these tracks which we thought were either beaver or otter.  There were small paw prints with lots of claws alongside wide tracks that looked like an animal was sliding in the snow.  Soon we saw them everywhere and followed them a ways.

A bunch of the tracks led to these 2 holes in the ice we found. Next to the holes was dirty or possibly even bloody snow and all different types of tracks leading to the area.  Neither of us knew what had happened but it sure did look interesting.  After investigating the surroundings for a bit, we continued on our way, still following the human footprints in the snow.

After a few hours, seeing some really pretty views and a tonne of animal tracks in the snow, we finally followed the human footprints out to the road.  They did not end up going around the lake which was too bad, but we still enjoyed the adventure we went on and got a good hike in.

On the way back we spotted 2 worms on the road and thought that was pretty strange so I took a photo of one as did Shirley.

Soon we returned back to camp and loaded up the sleds.  It was considerably easier to get our stuff down the hill and in no time we were back at the road to where the parking lot was located.  We walked to our vehicles and picked them up and took them to the trail where our we left our sleds. The road was now pretty much bare and had no more snow or ice on it and would be far too difficult to pull the sleds down, so we just loaded our vehicles there instead.

After a quick recap video, we packed up our cars and soon were on our way home.  Thanks so much to Shirley for the fun weekend, for bringing her Snowtrekker tent which I really enjoyed staying in, along with her stove, a bunch of gear, the cute little christmas lights and candy canes to decorate the tree.  Also, a huge thanks for taking some of the photos and videos of me used in the this post and also in the two youtube videos that will be published from this trip.  I had a great time and learned a lot from Shirley and I hope we are able to head out again on another trip one day soon.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks post and it inspires you to get outside.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message.

Happy Winter Camping!

Camper Christina

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2 Comments

  1. Sue Zaple December 25, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Great pictures looked like an awesome time

    • Christina December 26, 2018 at 6:45 am - Reply

      Thank you Sue!

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