Trip Report #3 Winter Camping

12:44 a.m. on November 27, 2007 (EST)
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I know its still fall and all but when the low hit 12 degrees I think it qualifies. First night was 12, second nigh was a balmy 20.

We went up to the Spruce Knob Seneca rocks area, neighbors to Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods. This is a beautiful area and we plan to go back to the Sods this spring/summer.

I don't have an amazing story for you all. I am just appreciative of all the advice which really helped in our planning.

We took a little of everyones advice and tailored it to our trip. We layered, and stayed toasty warm. We brought plenty of hot meals and hot chocolate and a snack for bedtime for those calories we would need to keep warm for bedtime.

I am so glad we did this as it was such a pleasant experience and opens up a whole new realm of experience for my wife and I.

We stayed toasty warm the entire time, not a cold toe or finger to be had. We slept like babies as the down bags did their job.

The only issue was had was condensation which seems to something everyone deals with. If I understand its just a matter of getting your ventilation right so you don't freeze but also so you don't drown.

It's late and I have meeting all day tomorrow. Just wanted to get this posted up before to much time had passed. I will try and get some pictures up at some point tomorrow.

Cheers

Greg

8:40 p.m. on November 29, 2007 (EST)
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So where's the picture gallery?

Hey, Greg, it's great to see you developing your skills all around in camping. You are doing this right, taking it one step at a time. I'm glad it worked out so well. And yes, hot chocolate is the first of the "10 Essentials for Winter Camping" ;)

1:46 a.m. on December 1, 2007 (EST)
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Good to hear. I take it no snow, just cold weather?

9:49 a.m. on December 1, 2007 (EST)
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Good for you, that's the way to start and winter camping is the BEST camping, IMHO, NO BUGS!!!

Hot chocolate is mandatory and a nip of dark rum just before bed is nice too.

7:20 p.m. on December 3, 2007 (EST)
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Re: Trip Report #3 Winter Camping PICTURES POSTED

Sorry for the long delay gang. I just started a new job last week and have been swamped.
The trip was great and yes we did get snow however the snow was on top of Spruce Knob and we camped down in the valley where it was just bitterly cold with no snow accumulation.


Here are the pictures: (shot with our new Nikon D40X)

Be sure to click the full size button in the upper left corner...(magnifying glass)

http://s203.photobucket.com/albums/aa199/WickedOne_bucket/?action=view¤t=f236616c.pbw

And my lessons learned:

We did the car camping which was great. Even though we did not need the security blanket of the car, we were much more relaxed and able to enjoy the experience and take some pretty good notes on what to do and what not to do. For one, I learned that the MSR stove should NOT be handled with your gloves on. Not only do gloves protect your hands from the cold, they also protect them from heat...which melts gloves rather quickly. Another lesson learned; we had layers, many layers but not of the best quality. It kept us warm but I can see where it could have gone wrong if we were in the backcountry with sub par fabric layers. We have quite the Christmas list put together with smart wool and clothes that will wick and not get soaked. The quality of your garments directly correlates to your long term comfort in the backcountry. Easily removable layers in order to regulate temperature are VERY important. The most crucial lesson learned was from a hike in Cannan Valley in an area similar to Dolly Sods, very wet. We were using a trail guide from 2003. It was just printed and sold to us 3 months ago and we assumed since it was sold in 2007 with a nice cover that said 2007 that it would be fairly accurate. WRONG. The trail had a MAJOR stream ford with a washed out bridge and not much of in the way of rocks to hop across. I, being the chivalress husband was attempting to get the wife across safely and stepped up to my shin in some pretty cold water. I could see where this could end up in the loss of some toes if the weather had been more severe or if we had more than 5 miles back to the car. Extra socks and an emergency fire starting kit (magnesium) will be part of my back country and day pack from here forward for any winter hiking.

10:12 p.m. on December 3, 2007 (EST)
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(I deleted your extra post-the one that said "ignore this one).

Your pics are very good. That area is really wild from the looks of it. It does look pretty cold. Did you see the bear and the goats on the same trip?

As far as gear, it sounds like you learned a lot. I did the same thing with snow camping, except I was a few miles from my car (maybe 2 hours on foot) testing out my gear. What I learned, I used the next time.

Needless to say, you now know to never touch a hot stove-they will cool off in a few minutes after you shut them off.

As far as layering, there are so many different shells, softshell jackets, fleeces, insulated jackets, insulated pants, rain gear, base layers and whatnot that you can go blind looking at all of them.

I have a very simple layering system; some people have one of everything for all kinds of conditions, but I just have a few things. Not sure I have posted this here before (I have elsewhere), but here is what I have and some alternatives -
Base Layer -Patagonia Capilene midweight long sleeve top and bottoms (Merino wool, REI synthetic, silk, etc.);

Mid layer -lightweight Columbia fleece jacket (any other decent fleece jacket, there are dozens of them);

Outer layer - REI Elements rain jacket, Marmot Precip full zip rain pants (they make a jacket too, which I don't have (any other light set of rain gear);

Insulated layers for cold weather - TNF Nuptse down parka, TNF Baltoro (now called Himalayan) parka for really cold (sub zero) weather, GoLite insulated full zip pants;

Several pairs of mitts and gloves including liner gloves, fleece beanie, balaclava, Patagonia, Smartwool, and Thorlo socks.

All of this will keep me warm and dry in almost all conditions.

11:01 p.m. on December 3, 2007 (EST)
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Hi Tom,

Great info on your layering system, thanks for that.

On the stove; our valve stem for gas on / off is just under the burner. I should have removed my gloves before I tried to turn the gas off after heating water for hot chocolate because the bulk of the glove put it in contact with the hot metal. Without gloves if you even get close to that you can feel the heat, with the gloves on, well... I am buying a new pair of gloves this week :)

Thanks for the compliments on the pictures. My wife gets 99.9% of the credit in that arena.

As far as the bear and the goats, the bear is from a trip to Shenandoah earlier this year, the mtn. goats were from the recent cold weather trip.

If you poke around in my Photobucket you can also find a file of pictures of our trip out The Grand Tetons from July of this year. Its open to the public so feel free.

12:32 a.m. on December 4, 2007 (EST)
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I saw some of those; very nice. My stoves either shut off at the pump itself (MSR XGK);the valve sticks out a bit and it shuts off at the pump too(Optimus Nova); or the valve is easy to get at (Svea 123)for the liquid fuel stoves; shuts off at the valve on the cartridge which has a fuel line to the stove itself (Coleman Xtreme; has a little valve that is fairly easy to get to (Primus Micron canister stove).

Stoves are one thing I have more than one of, but two of them I have had for over 20 years (the Svea and the MSR). The Nova and the Coleman are my newest. I really like the Micron for day hiking. It fits in a little pot with a small canister and is great for making a hot drink or soup for lunch.

10:57 a.m. on December 7, 2007 (EST)
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I am not familiar with any of the places mentioned. Where were you? . What state? Realizing that metal fuel bottles get very cold to touch, I thought it would be a good idea to make a foam "cozy" for them. This, I later read, was a bad idea, cutting down on the efficiency of the stove. The canisters need the air for heat transfer. I also try never remove my liner gloves, so my bare hands will not be exposed. I've had the tips of my fingers turn purple. I sometimes wear them under fingerless gloves when doing camp chores that need fingers. On lengthy day hikes, I'll take along an extra first layer of dry clothes in case I fall into a stream. I fell through ice one time, luckily just waist deep, but as soon as I stepped ashore my wet clothes turned to ice. Not fun. It's hard to avoid stream crossing in New England, so one has to plan for the inevitable. ( I really enjoy your close-up picture of the fast moving water.)

1:13 p.m. on December 7, 2007 (EST)
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Hi Rambler.

We were in North Western, West Virginia just across the border from Virginia and just south of the Maryland border.

5:24 p.m. on December 7, 2007 (EST)
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Rambler, where did you read that about canisters? Are you talking about compressed gas canisters or liquid fuel bottles? Warming the canisters would be a good thing-they lose efficiency when the gas is cold; I'm not sure it would make much difference with white gas.

12:03 a.m. on December 9, 2007 (EST)
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...correction, Northeastern WV. :)

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