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Beavah

Winter Fun and Tips

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Yah, though da northern midwest set weird record high temperatures this week, we hope winter will come back shortly. :cool:

 

For all those of you who live in places where it gets cold enough for water to become solid, how 'bout sharin' your favorite camping spots, trips, tips, gear, whatever!

 

We might even make some of dem grit-eaters jealous! :)

 

Beavah

 

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Winter is my favorite time to camp. No crowds, no bears, no bugs, no lightning, no rain, gorgeous vistas, snow caves, ice climbing, skiing, crisp air and everything tastes better.

 

If there is a golden rule in being outdoors in the winter, its stay dry. All your gear needs to help you achieve that. Once you get wet, you get cold. Once you get cold, nothing is fun.

 

This saturday, we are skiing 6 miles and gaining 3000ft to a backcountry cabin. Ski back out Sunday. Been snowing all week and the avalanche danger is now considerable. Should be fun. In two weeks we do our annual OKPIK then a week later the District Klondoree. Who says you can't camp in the mountains in the winter?

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Our favorite winter campout is more of a weekend lock-in at the Army National Guard armory in Angola, Indiana, not far from Fort Wayne. Each February, the Guard let's us use their facilities for the weekend including their indoor basketball court, showers, and full-service kitchen.

 

For outside fun, on Saturday morning, we head over to Pokagon State Park where they have a dual-track, quarter mile toboggan run. Four scouts each get on two toboggans and race each other down the track. We take pictures of each team as they race down the hill. At the end of the run, the scouts pick up their toboggans and haul them back to the starting point for the next race.

 

The races continue for several hours until the guys get too tired to carry the toboggans at which point we break for lunch. After everyone has had some chow, warmed up, and rested up, we head over to the adjoining sled-riding hills and spend the rest of the afternoon sledding down the hills in store-bought sleds and in sleds that several of the scout teams have built throughout the year.

 

A couple years ago, an enterprising group of our Venture Patrol scouts built what they called their "death sled". They collected a couple of old abandoned grocery carts from the local grocery store, bolted them onto a 2" x 4" lumber frame, and mounted this contraption onto several old snow skis acquired from the Salvation Army store. Reminded me of an episode of the Little Rascals.

 

They successfully raced the "death sled" down the hill several times and thought they had become quite proficient until they tried to load about 12 scouts on board all at once. When they ran it down the hill, it hit a tree, and the runners broke beyond repair. That was the last run of the "death sled". We got some great pictures from that trip, and they still talk about the "death sled" to this day. The new scouts think it's an urban troop legend, and everybody always looks forward to February every year.

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I don't like winter and don't like the cold!

However Rory and Friday (the new dog) really enjoy their walk and snow is an added bonus.

We walk about 3 -5 miles each day.

I have the dress in layers bit mastered.

I have found that for me, mittens seem to work better than gloves.

My latest add on to my Winter Walking Apparel is a set of 18os behind the head ear warmers, these things really work. They were kind of expensive ($28.00)But my ears stay nice and warm.

Winter is a great time for a nature walk, tracking bunnies in the snow, seeing the doves rise out of what's left of the corn field. I even managed to get a great photo of "Our" owl up in the pear tree last week.

I have a lot of trees. I know in the UK there are 28 species of oak tree, I'm unsure if the Pin Oak is one of them? Anyway. - I have a couple of Pin Oaks that have me puzzled.

The leaves have turned brown and are dead, but they have remained on the tree.

Is this normal?

When it gets really cold and everything is frozen, please remember the birds and put some drinking water out for them! If your walking your dog, keep an eye on his paws, the ice can be very harmful to a dogs feet!!

Eamonn.

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Anthony Wayne Scout Reservation south of Angola Indiana has some great hikes even in winter. Its maybe 20 minutes from Pokagon and you dont need to worry about weather with the refrigerated track. We have used it in 20 degrees and at 50 degrees. The guys think the 50 degree wet track was way faster.

 Indian Mounds Scout Reservation near Oconomowoc Wisconsin has some great hills for sledding and a nice lake for winter fun. Depending on weather the lake freezes completely and expansion causes cracks all-round the shore line so you are actually on a floating ice island. Locals ice fish and set up shacks. Camp has many activities.

MaKaJaWan Scout Reservation near Pearson Wisconsin has cross country skiing, some nice hills and a lake which freezes solid. Testing your Okpik skills by sleeping on the frozen lake with no wind breaks, possibly in a quinzee of your own construction can be a challenge for the older scouts. Camping at below zero temps can be as much fun as 70 degrees and sun.

 Winter means COLD which is an acronym for; CLEAN, keep your skin and clothing clean and they will insulate you better. OVERHEATING, monitor body temp and prevent overheating which causes perspiration. LAYERING, wear multiple layers rather than one thick layer of clothing. This allows ventilation by opening layers or removing layers to prevent overheating. DRY, probably the most important water transfers heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Keep inner layers dry as well as outer layers. There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor equipment choices and improper training.

 Be Prepared and have fun.

LongHaul

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One of our favorite winter campsites is the AMC camp at Mt. Cardigan, NH. See http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/cardigan/index.cfm

 

There are outdoor campsites available year round. Most years there is plenty of snow although last year was a poor snow year. At this point they probably have 5-6 ft of snow on the ground. There are trails to snowshoe, XC Ski and an old downhill ski area the scouts can sled, tube and snowboard or ski on. They just have to walk up & down the hill! They tend to really wipe themselves out during the day and are in bed early.

 

Much better than when we stay at a commercial ski lodge and they stay up all night on colas, hot chocolate, candy etc.

 

The campsites are about 400yds up a hill which tend to limit the junk scouts sometime bring on an outing. Bears are usually asleep in the winter and less of a worry.

 

There is an AMC lodge there with hot meals, cots, fireplace etc. for wimps. Any time we have gone, the only folks camping outside have been scouts. The folks in the lodge thought we were nuts. The presents of the lodge is a nice backup though in case things get rediculous cold. We had one winter campout where it dropped to -20 and it turned into a survival exercise. This location provides the scouts with a place to experience real winter camping with a safe area to warm up if something goes wrong.

 

SA

 

I forgot to mention scout units basically pay the AMC member prices. At least that's how I remember it.(This message has been edited by scoutingagain)

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Beav,

 

ya not gonna make this grit-eater jealous! We have many days of sunshine. Even last week when the temp was in the teens overnight, it got up to upper 40's during day and we had gorgeous sunshine. It's not the cold I mind, it is the grey dreary days without end that I disliked when I went "up north". I was having beginning to have issues after 5 days with no sun, just a never ending cycle of rain, sleet, and snow. This morning we had thunderstorms and tornado watch. By lunch, we were in the 60's and the sun was out. Nice day to get outside (and I don't have to worry about frostbite).

 

Cold weather camping is a challenge, since some of our boys don't even have a winter coat. My son has a ROTC coat and a pair of hunting coveralls. And soon he will have a HS letter jacket. No other outdoor wear. He does however, have a 15 degree sleeping bag, a liner and some long johns and sweats.. yes, what you aren't supposed to have cotton. (or a cotton blend at least). The only coats/pants you can find around here are camo hunting clothes.

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Several times we have gone to Grover Hot Springs ( Markleeville, kinda near Lake Tahoe ) where they have natural hot springs. We setup camp and go for a dip in the 105 degree water, then for a quick dip in the hot-spring heated swimming pool, which is about 80ish degrees.

 

Other times we've rented snow shoes and hiked in a short distance from the road to do our winter camping. Tried to take a hike one time by one of my ASM's started a huge snowball fight which took us 1 1/2 hours and drained all our energy. SM's were nursing sore shoulders for the next few days ( but we won! ). :-)

 

Tips: always change into dry clothes when you sack out for the night and wear a beanie. Makes a huge difference is the heat factor...

 

 

 

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So just think of the experience when you send him north and he goes to the second hand store for a few essentials and spends a couple of days sleeping in a quinsee ( which is a hollowed out pile of snow) he made himself. Sunshine isn't all it's cracked up to be, just ask the people in Seattle. :)

LongHaul

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Our pack does a January trip up to a Sno-Park and snowmobile trailhead up past Shaver Lake NE of Fresno. We take anything that will slide on snow... plastic sleds, inner tubes. Three years ago there was so much snow, we could hardly climb out of the parking lot. Two years ago it snowed on us, then turned to icy rain and cut our BBQ short. Last year was bone dry and the boys were sledding on sheets of ice dodging exposed rocks.

 

CA Scouter, Grover Hot Springs was a summer vacation spot a few times for my family when I was a kid. There was a massive rock pile in the campground where I spent hours climbing, hiding, crawling. I remember the rattlesnake warning signs nearby and seeing snake trails all around. And the heated springs pool with the brown walls...my mom wouldn't let me swim in it... she said it was for old people.

I was happy to see GHS SP avoid the budget ax, unlike another favorite childhood campground, Plumas Eureka State Park. But then it was closed every other year it seems because of Bubonic Plague. (BTW if only one person gets the disease, is it still technically a plague?)

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Last year our troop went to Muskegon, MI to go luging on the US olympic training track. We were there about a week before the troop that was recently featured in Scouting magazine. I couldn't go, but the boys who did had an absolute blast and want to do it again. It was a bit of a drive, but worth it. There are a couple of scout camps in the area to stay at in the evening (they probably have cabins available for those who want them).

 

This year the troop is going dog sledding somewhere in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Good thing too because as I look out my window it is sunny and green down here. Here's hoping for snow in the UP.

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