Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Frigid Weekend Afield In The Books.

Spent the entire weekend out in the woods at a winter scout camping event. A few new twists that I hadn't counted on came up.

1. Frozen wet wood- It's about the hardest thing in the world to process. Had I needed to process it in the field and split it, I would have only been able to split 12-14" long pieces. It's rather tenacious when frozen in in the teens. We had to set up the split wood near the fire to dry it out prior to burning it.

2. Frozen shoes- Getting into a frozen pair of shoes after sleeping in a cozy Hammock was brutal to say the least. Drying them prior to sleeping was impossible. It was just too cold to keep them in my sleeping bag.

3. Frozen ground is hard to dig- Had we needed to dig a latrine, it would have been nearly impossible. Luckily we had pit toilets so it was less so. I will say that a pit toilet is best used when it's frigid. The stink is gone, as well as the bugs.

4. NEVER TRUST A WEATHER MAN. Temps dropped to 10 degrees below the forecast temperature. Instead of 21 degrees, we hit 10 above with low single digit wind chill.

5. Keeping food in frigid weather sounds like a snap, right? Nope. We had to keep eggs and milk in the cooler and throw a bottle of warm water in them every once in a while to keep it from freezing. French toast in the teens is a struggle. The milk and egg mix would constantly freeze. We made a cake for the cooking competition and it was pretty hard to get it fixed prior to freezing solid. Then add the temperature differential into you dutch oven cooking calculations and it took an additional 25% cooking time. I still won, but it sucked. Had to be a corn product. I made Corn cake with cherry chocolate drizzle. Cost me about 5 bucks to make. Bragging rights, priceless!

6. Bring backups to your backups. By the end of the weekend I loaned out 2 military sleep systems, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of gloves, a pair of boots and a bunch of toilet paper.

My scouts did well with their skills tests this weekend. They had to bring their own supplies and use them to do various skills as required. They weren't given specifics besides they would need to use orienteering to find the stations. They had to make a fire after getting wet. All items used to make fire had to be dunked in a bucket prior to use. They had to then build the fire that would burn through a line suspended at 24" for a timed result. There were other various skills related to survival and they came in 2nd over all with only 2 scouts present with high ranks.

I didn't get much sleep at all. The air was so cold that my throat would dry out and the pain would wake me. Add in the full moon and it was a rough night. I'm a very light sleeper as well and the coyotes were making some noise! We had to hurry home for my boys' birthday party. Their birthdays are about a week apart so we usually hold the party at the same time. Oddly enough, my eldest received a new 20 degree Kelty speeling bag.... Perfect timing for our next camp out in February.

The upcoming week is going to be super busy, I'm not sure how much I'll be posting. Hopefully a little because I have some review updates to make and some field use to write about.


  1. Your story of the Winter campout brought back memories. My church's boys group for some reason did most of our camping and hiking in cold, wet weather. The fact that our counselor was in the Marines might have had something to do with that. :-)

    Those expeditions were never as cold as yours, but they were often below freezing and usually involved some form of precipitation. They taught me the value of looking for standing dead trees to use in fires.

  2. You never remember the easy ones, it's the ones that teach you how to deal with adversity that you will always remember.


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