“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter”. – John Burroughs
Growing up in the suburbs outside New York City it felt more like a dream to ever get to experience wilderness, as if it was something from a time lost and gone away. The truth that I’ve discovered is despite land fragmentation and encroachment from the need for our homes and businesses there is still much out there to “get lost” in. One just needs to take the time to research access points, to pour over the maps and read the topography of the landscape, set some goals and make a plan…even in the coldest depth of winter!
With the right gear and knowledge you can have the forest to your human self in winter.
So after reading a lot about winter trekking and hot tenting this past year, I finally had an opportunity to get out for a few nights to a place called Good Luck Lake. We did some ice fishing, snowshoeing, star gazing, a lot of fire wood processing and plenty of camp cookery.
Upon arrival the temps hovered around 0f and caused the surface capillaries in my hands and face to restrict immediately upon stepping out of the warm truck. I should have turned the heat off and began to acclimitize to the conditions. As the expression goes “be bold, start cold” in order to allow your body to heat through the exercise about to happen.
Smartly my sled was packed and ready for the trail while my companions fidgeted around with last minute changes and ropes and bungies to cinch it all in place. In doing so hands quickly lost dexterity but it would only take a few minutes on the trail for the capillaries dialated by exercise to carry heat from the core out to the skin and even cause sweat.
By the time we arrived into camp we were in base layers having had to remove wool and or quilted down jackets in order to maintain 98.6.
I bring all this up because entering the winter season requires a higher level of awareness and avoidance of mistakes. The cold is far less forgiving and may allow for 1 mistake but often not 2 or 3 before real danger.
Well we made it out and enjoyed the landscape and all the clarity that only nature can provide.
Appreciating the experience with a genuine admiration not with a false reverance of fashionable speech or millennial need of proving oneself through pictures but more through the progression on authenticity over image that makes us feel as though we are not just visitors but capable adventures ready for the extremes nature provides without care for your skills, abilities and gear.
Now I’m back to day dreaming about the next one and hopefully will find the right place to hot tent and pull some trout through the ice!
We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks—anywhere that we may be placed—with the necessity always present of being on time and up to our work; of providing for the dependent ones; of keeping up, catching up, or getting left. “Alas for the life-long battle, whose bravest slogan is bread.”I am talking … to those of the world’s workers who go, or would like to go, every summer to the woods. And to these I would say, don’t rough it; make it as smooth, as restful and pleasurable as you can.” – Nessmuk -Woodcraft & Camping