In early January the sun goes down by 5:30 pm, by the time I park my truck at the bottom
of the canyon it’s already getting dark. Snow
is lightly falling. After clipping into my snowshoes my small day pack goes on loaded with the few supplies I’m taking with me for my camp. No blanket, no sleeping bag and of course no tent, no stove. Food is simple with sourdough rolls and chili for dinner, grits and eggs for breakfast, some jerky to snack on, the ever present sunflower seeds and plenty of Mocha mix for drinking. I’m taking my own made gear for shelter, my Polartech Fleece Poncho Liner goes on next, followed by an HD Poncho in snow camo. For my hands, finger-less mittens, 100% wool, crocheted by my wife, Shauna, with yarn we bought a couple years ago on a visit to the Woodward’s in North Carolina. The last item, essential now, my Fenix headlamp with wide angle flood light to penetrate the dark woods that lie ahead.
Arriving at last I search around for the best spot for my shelter, seeing a large pine and a small Juniper about twelve feet apart it looks perfect. For this camp I’m using my Ultralite silnylon poncho as a tarp for a lean to shelter, over that I’m throwing a very thin painters plastic to form a clear window for the Super Shelter that will result. Very light, and very warm.
The Super Shelter is nine feet long, four feet wide and a little over four feet tall. The invention an idea of Mors Kochanski a now elderly Canadian survival guru, it is a merging of modern materials and Inuit (Eskimo) ways. In effect it makes a greenhouse to capture radiant heat from a fire.
A few arm loads of soft pine boughs make for a pleasant aromatic mattress on the snow. With my poncho off, my Fleece liner will be like a sheet on the boughs.
I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t bother me. I have plenty to do, whether just camp chores or something I want to make or do. There are times when it would be nice to say something to someone, like talk about a beautiful sunset. Probably the hardest time is around the campfire at night, that’s the time when folks like to talk, but I keep busy cooking, or experimenting or making something and the time passes nicely. Mostly I miss someone to share the beauty I find in the outdoors, it seems there is not much use raving about it to myself, I suppose that gives a reason to come back, for the enjoyment of telling about the time in the wilderness.
Morning finally breaks and the early light exposes my camp and the area around it allowing me to really see it for the first time, having come in during the dark evening and only my head lamp to illuminate things. I find the view at first light simply stunning, fresh snow everywhere, the pines fully flocked, my tracks coming in nearly covered. I see a couple sets of rabbit tracks in the soft snow. I bring my head back inside, closing the plastic again. The warmth from the glowing fire is so inviting while inside my shelter I scarcely can muster the desire to go out in the frigid morning air until I have to. I lay back down to ponder my situation. Sleep catches me and I doze for an hour, till a little chill awakens me and alerts me that the fire needs another charge of wood.