Friday 9th, February 2018
Category : Jeep Adventure
It was time to go Winter Camping. After all, I had to live up to the Eat - Jeep - Sleep motto. Temperature was around -8C during the day and -15C during the night. And beside having a good time, one of the primary reasons for the trip was education. I needed to know if the tent, sleeping bag, insulation mat, food, cooking and everything else perform to my expectation. The short answer - Yes.
I arrived around 2pm on Friday and started to setup the tent. The ground was a solid sheet of ice. Not just frozen ground. No! There must have been a few times where the snow melted, created a puddle and froze. I did get 10 inch nails expecting to hammer them into the frozen ground. Not much success with solid ice. I did eventually get them in the ground to hold the tent. We had no strong winds, so this worked out ok.
By the time the tent was up and all the gear in the tent, I didn't feel like driving back to Huntsville for a solid dinner. I did eat a soup and sandwich and enjoyed the fire.
Without enough energy to burn during the cold night, I started to feel the cold creeping into the sleeping bag - starting with the feet.
The second night was not a problem, I had a good meal. I did add another blanket between me and the ice as well. It's like the ice was radiating cold waves right through all the padding. Similar to the sun rays in summer where you can feel the heat through the roof of the house.
Saturday was my snowshoe excursion day. Only a handful of trails were officially open. That means that the parking lot was ploughed. I walked about an hour into the Western Upland Trail. I knew that I had to turn around, the trail is too long to finish in one day.
The second trail I visited was the Track and Tower. I was courious to see the remaining train trestle. We paddled there a few times over the past 30 years. But not much to see in winter, The few stomps that are left are covered in snow and almost not visible.
Now that I know what to improve, I'm looking forward to my next winter camping outing.
Second visit at Mew Lake Campsite
And it's March Break, the weekend of the 16/17th. I was not having a good time. The site was busy as I expected. The previous occupant of camp site #53 used a tent with open floor. It is basically a big tent without a floor and a big stove inside. So all the ice inside melted and the top quarter of an inch was soft and messy. Not a big problem, I had a tarp under my tent. I got everything setup and went for a short hike. The trails were all packed and didn't require snowshoes. The weather was perfect.
From here on it all went downhill. A family moved in on the next site. Pickup truck with a big 5th-wheel. And a mutt, comes to my site and barfs and growls. The owner calls'em back, no luck. They keep on calling and calling and calling. Not sure what was more annoying, the owner or the dog. This keeps on going for as long as I was at my camp site. I left for dinner and came back around 10. The mutt family had their trailer fully illuminated - all night long. At 6 in the morning I knew, I have to leave before I use the dog repellant spray (yes I have one). So I packed up and left around 7.
Huntsville here I come, breakfast at McDonald. I'm pulling up to the McDonald and there was a tour bus - unloading. Since my weekend already went less than perfect, I settled for the drive-through and ate in the parking lot. Very classy.
I already knew that my Saturday will be spent visiting lakes and find free parking from where I can go ice fishing. I found several places but ended up at Sibbald Point Provincial Park at the south end of Lake Simcoe. I still had my Provincial Park ticket, so entry didn't cost me a dime. Just beautiful, sitting on the ice in the middle of the lake. The sound of ice cracking around me. A very disturbing sound at first, but I got used to it. It's like living the 'Ice Age' movie in real time. Remember the prehistoric squirrel? Yup, that's how I felt minus the nut. And no squirrel, nut or fish was harmed during my ice fishing afternoon.