My friend Alex and I traveled North to the Hammond Pond Wild Forest in the Adirondack Wilderness for 2 nights and 3 days of winter solitude.
The access to Hammond Pond was a 0.9mile route along an old logging road to reach the rickety dam at the base of the Southeast facing cliffs on Sweetfern Hill.
The soft and deep layered snow made for a workout and slowed our approach as we pulled sleds up the slight elevation following some old red trail discs.
The sleds pulled just fine despite being packed tight with winter gear as well as fishing and hunting items. We hoped to find perch, pike and snowshoe hare.
Arriving around noon we knew we needed to find a site and buck some wood for temps predicted at 8f with high winds the first night and temps dipping to 4f the second night. The campsite took time to find as we used caution to avoid slushy ice with a spud bar and find a space out of the predominate wind direction and tucked into the hemlocks without any widow-makers above.
The area appeared to have minimal use but it still took more time to find some seasoned maple to buck and split for the woodstove. Alex had a Gransfors Forest Axe and Forester Saw that made the work enjoyable. I had along my AdventureSworn Bucksaw and Wetterlings Forest Axe. Next time we’ll maybe cut weight and bring one set but we do like using our own gear.
We split wood and than split more wood.. twice as much as we ended up needing. Better safe than sorry.
After the first night of stove use the open floor melts and than freezes the snow into ice when the stove goes out so it’s helpful to put some splits down as a floor to avoid slipping.
We dined on venison backstrap cooked over bacon grease in a cold handle pan.
If you look close at the damper you can see I added washers to keep it tight for better burn control.
The canvas snowtrekker tent and wood stove along with proper winter bags made for easy sleeping.
Before the sun began to set you could see Jupiter shinning like a 1,000 lumen flashlight across an open expanse. The beauty and mystery of the night sky really puts things into perspective. I’d like to make it a goal to learn more (specifically navigation) and will make it a point to print out “This Weeks Sky At a Glance” reports from now on.
A lot of winter camping is crouching down..pulling a sled, processing wood, staking the tent, setting tip-ups for fishing…you need a strong back.
The Steripen seems to me like the most efficient method of water treatment in winter. With a gas or wood stove as backup. I kept my water upside-down and in a wool sleeve so it wouldn’t freeze as fast.
Alex made some delicious sausage peppers and onions that we ate on bread.
Keeping the coffee hot in the morning. We set up our tip-ups but had only 1 flag.
It was a Northern Pike about 16″, 2″ inches short of legal harvest at this pond.
We found snowshoe hare sign but no snowshoe hares. Alex was saying that he thought the predator population was keeping them on high alert and than we confirmed that suspicion Sunday morning when we witnessed 5 coyotes cross the ice at dawn.
Before leaving, I gathered up some wintergreen leaves for a fresh cup of tea. The canteen style cup fits perfectly along a stove pipe (the hottest part) for a faster boil. This Heavy Cover brand US GI titanium canteen mess cup sure is lite weight! When you compare it to the stainless steel version it makes clear why people pay a premium for them.
and we returned course on Sunday along the Black Brook towards the vehicle. The slush had iced over and made for very easy travel.
Here is the answer to all your wood burning questions by Lady Celia Congrev
Beech wood fires are bright and clear,
If the logs are kept a year.
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for long it’s laid away.
Birch and fir logs burn too fast,
Blaze up bright and do not last.
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like a churchyard mould,
Even the very flames are cold.
But Ash green or Ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown.
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke.
Apple wood will scent your room,
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oak and maple if dry and old,
Keep away the winter cold.
But ash wood wet and ash wood dry,
A king shall warm his slippers by