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Trip Reports => Trip Reports => : Coldfeet March 13, 2018, 06:36:30 PM

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: First semi solo trip
: Coldfeet March 13, 2018, 06:36:30 PM
Went on my first solo winter trip this past weekend in the NY area.   I am able to use the property of the sleep away camp that I work at during the summer time in Copake NY.  We had a dumping of snow a few days earlier and they had app 8-10" up there.  It was sort of car camping and I choose a location where I had to haul my gear to a site tucked away near the woods.

Going to keep this report simple.

What I learned,
1.  Stake the tent down after placing canvas on top of the frame, immediately.  Snowtrekker 9x11.5
2. Pole will split when wind blows tent over when my back is turned.  (already sopke to Duane, I'm the second one this week cracking a pole)
3.  Don't walk after tent, run!
4.  Newtons law of motion, tent will continue to roll until it meets an object, like a downed tree.
5.  Carry duct tape always (didn't have)
6.  don't over feed stove with those biobricks, smothered flames.
7    Setting up in yard on grass wearing sneakers is not reality.   Took a lot longer to do it on snowshoes and post holing at times without them
8.  I enjoyed relaxing inside and cooking once I was set up.
9.  Cot on snow sinks and tilts making pad and me slide off a bit.
10.  I need to stop feeding stove before sleeping because I get to hot once in the sleeping bag.
11.  Spam is pretty good but in moderations.
12.  I wish my whole family was with me to enjoy being out there,  not to sure if that will ever happen.
13.  I was bored being out there alone, I'm a people person.
14.  I would do it again and be prepared a bit more now mentally.
15.  I was only out 2 nights and wished I could have stayed longer.

I was solo setting up (and taking down), took me 4 trips with my Paris pulk bringing stuff from the car to my site, not a long distance to pull, maybe 200 yards to a quiet place in the camp where the kids go camping.   My friend showed up next morning and we drove around and did a short hike to a cave with a waterfall running through it (Dover NY).  I picked up two bundles of wood to burn that night and next morning because the wood at camp was damp and tough to burn.   Once again I brought to much gear but I figured why not, just in case.  Bad habit of mine but I can take less when I have to.  I listened to an audiobook that bioguide suggested, White Fang.  I still have a few chapters left to find out the ending, then I heard it was also made into a movie which I hope to watch one day.     Oh yea, my buddy up there gave me some venison cheese hot dogs, pretty good but a bit on the spicy side.   I enjoyed seeing the sun set, stars the first night, hearing the birds in the morning, cutting up a few pieces of wood and scraping off the bark so it could burn easier, watching some snow fall.  But I'm going to be honest, I felt lonely.   All of my winter buddies were busy but I needed to go because I knew it would be my last winter trip of the season, glad I went.  I guess that means it was a success :)   Many lessons learned, oh one more thing, the Sorels I bought used, makes my right foot sock keep sliding down.  Guess its the friction between the felt liner and my wool sock.   My modified Bear Paw snowshoes worked great until they too slid off my sorels!  And my feet were still cold!  Wish I could go tomorrow all over again!   Health and happiness to all.   Will try somehow this week to figure out posting pics.  Take care.

Sorry if this posted twice.

: Re: First semi solo trip
: ravinerat March 13, 2018, 07:59:12 PM
Well, the trip was a success. All lessons learned. You could always just leave your extra stuff in the car. You, just in case. Haven't heard of one of the Eastmen poles splitting before. Now I know I have to be prepared for that. See I learnt something from you. My socks slid off all the time. But I buy cheap socks. I always take a small MSR stove with me. Just incase I can't light the stove, too late to get wood or one of the other reasons.mi still can have hot food and drink. It even warms the tent up a bit. I look forward to your next trip report.

: Re: First semi solo trip
: rbinhood March 13, 2018, 08:27:33 PM
Thanks for the report. I have camped alone a few times. Like you, I got lonely.  I enjoy company when I camp, someone to share the experience with, and to talk to.

I had my pop-up ice shanty take off across the lake a few years ago. 300+ yard sprint in pack boots and a diving tackle that would have made an NFL corner back jealous. If I had missed, the shanty would have gone for miles. Good reminder to stake the tent right away.

Look forward to pics.
: Re: First semi solo trip
: HOOP March 13, 2018, 08:35:14 PM
Congratulations Coldfeet on your first semi solo winter trip!  Sounds like you learned many things, which is good!   :)
I have never experienced the wind blown hot tent during set up. But I certainly have been in that extreme wind condition with a summer tent. What I do there is rope down one corner of the tent first. Not peg, rope to something not move-able so that the tent peg won't pop out if the wind rips at the tent.  If nothing immovable is available to rope down to, it would be multiple pegs.  Then set up the tent down-wind, then secure it appropriately.  If its roped down on one corner, it won't take off on you before you can fully set it up.   

Ideally, try and get tucked into the bush out of the main wind. I know this is not always do-able based on the location you have to work with. 

I solo camp mostly. How I deal with boredom on the middle days, is go for snowshoe and ski exploration trips with map and compass, and try and see new areas to see what there is to see, and bring my lunch, and go as far as I can, get tired out, and then the evenings are relaxing and I often crash between 8 and 9 pm, and then sleep 10-11 hours.  One can really get caught up on sleep on these solo base camp trips!   :)

On these day trips I bring my camera and make videos for future editing, and take stills for photo trip reports.  That can occupy many hours. I have spent miserable rain days in camp. In those days I have had a good book with me, and a good seat and backrest.  I also put the rain gear on and go out and collect wood and cache it for a return trip one day.  Its great that in a hot tent all wet gear can be dried easily.

Down time is also time to practice some bushcraft skills.  e.g. gather bowdrill materials, carve a bowdrill set, and see if you can bust out an ember.  Practice feather sticks.  Collect spruce and pine pitch. Work on igniting various tinders with a ferro rod. Make a birch bark cup. Carve a wooden spoon or fork.  Lots of other little hobbies to do if you plan ahead.  One thing I should do one day sitting beside the woodstove, is some hand sewing of gear, which would take some prep time at home for the materials, but could be an idea to be productive in down time.  And then there is ice fishing if its available, which can occupy many hours. Often its too windy and cold out in the open for me if I bring the ice fishing gear, so I go skiing or snowshoeing instead.  If I brought a wind tarp, I might be able to cut poles and rig a wind shelter for ice fishing, but I have been too lazy to do that,and don't bring a tarp for that purpose, but every trip I say I should. 

For hardcore adventure, the ultimate solo experience for me would be travelling day to day across the landscape, making new camps every day or two, like Kaifus did this winter in the BWCA.  There is so much work to do every day, and so much exhausted sleeping, that there is no time for boredom.   :)

There is no substitute for having family and good buddies along. But solo can be quite rewarding if you work at keeping busy and exploring the surrounding landscape.  I hope you give it a try again and see how it goes.  Maybe post some photo trip reports to entice a buddy to come along when he/she see's how awesome it is being out in winter  :) 
: Re: First semi solo trip
: cousin Pete March 13, 2018, 09:14:09 PM
Hello Coldfeet:  Congrats on your first  semi solo trip.  You are absolutely right about staking out the tent after putting it on the frame.  I have never used biobricks.  Feeling lonely isn't very nice.  I tend to enjoy the solitude.  I rarely feel lonely when I am alone  while winter camping.  Hopefully you can get some like minded winter trippers to camp with.  Thanks for sharing. 

Take care,
Cousin Pete
: Re: First semi solo trip
: trapmusher March 14, 2018, 12:03:10 PM
Considering where you live, bush quiet must be very quiet for you. i'm guessing that a dog is out of the question! A small FM radio can liven things up. You might even get CBC.
: Re: First semi solo trip
: snapper March 14, 2018, 12:32:22 PM
Coldfeet - Congrats on your first solo trip.  Funny how life one point you were looking for company and that same weekend I was finally off with a college break.  Oh well, that's how life goes.  I'm glad you got out there and were able to learn as much as you did.  Wonderful way to find out what really works.

That's all for now.  Take care and until next well.

: Re: First semi solo trip
: Okanagan March 14, 2018, 01:12:43 PM
Coldfeet, good on you!  I enjoyed the read, was there with you.  You are doing well.

I've done a lot of solo camping, mostly in way back country in Canada, mostly backpacking, but a lot close to vehicle.  I calculated a few years ago that I have slept about three years total on the ground during various back country forays, but I'm an old codger with lots of years to total up bivy nights.

Feeling down late in the day, especially just before sundown and as it gets dark is normal for many of us.  A fire helps.  Cooking something helps.  Being busy setting up etc. helps but it is a mental downdraft and I feel lonely.  I have been slightly surprised to find that many hardened long time outdoorsmen admit the same.  If you are traveling, use the down mood as a measure of blood sugar level and as an indicator to stop, build a fire and stoke some calories into your bod.  After dark that feeling usually leaves me.  I have pulled the plug on a few lonely safari's and gone home a day or two early due to boredom and the down draft, especially when the main purpose of my trip is not turning out as planned. 

: Re: First semi solo trip
: GearFreak March 14, 2018, 09:39:23 PM
I learned about being bored last year.  Bring a camera and talk to it.  YOU will laugh at the stupid things you say to it!!!!.

Great trip report!
: Re: First semi solo trip
: Coldfeet March 14, 2018, 09:42:53 PM
Hi guys, thanks for sharing thoughts.

ravinerat - the pole split at the end where it connects into the Y piece.  I might have helped worsen it when I was trying to pull it back over instead of getting to the back where it was held by a tree.  Totally my fault, could have been worse I realized after that.

I was unprepared with snow stakes at the time, didn't think about the wind.  I actually use the mini side wall ST poles to hold the tent down while I grabbed some thin kindling and made the switch, I was a bit upset with myself.   I should keep rope ready to tie down like Hoop suggested and maybe some painter sticks.  Or better yet wait for the wind to die down, patience is not my best virtue. 

rbinhood - oh boy, I can totally picture that.   That must have been a huge lake.    I pulled a Superman dive once on the cement to catch a dog leash that was attached to my wife's bosses dog that I was sitting for.  Took one second for me to drop the leash and the little brat started to scamper away.  I was watching a $2K dog run away with 1/2 my pension!   I landed on the leash and stayed on the ground for 2 min holding my ribs, no more dog sitting!

Hoop- I've always told my kids to not wait for others, just sign up, buy a ticket and enjoy the ride.   I appreciate the many ideas that you suggested most importantly the tying down of a tent corner.

CPete- I'm guessing my 57 years of never really being alone in the NYC area has gotten me programmed in certain ways.  Weird, I wonder how the other side of that feels?   I know many people can't stand the city and some city folk can't stand the country.  I'm tired of the city but I enjoy the company of others.  Tough to explain. 

trapmusher- I think you hit the mark with the dog idea.  So, my daughter recently moved back in with us and she has an awesome lab/shepard mix dog.  He is smart, friendly, full of energy and big.   I asked her if I could take him out with me and she didn't think it was the right time.  I understand, she is very attached to the dog for certain reasons.  G-d forbid he got loose and I lost him, I can't, don't want to even think about that.   I thought about my own dog but the timing isn't right.  But that would make me feel much better I believe.   Wonder if I could rent a dog for a trip?  haha

snapper - go figure, but one day, one day soon again.

okanagan - thanks for your words.  I had a great time with my buddy during the day, but when he left it seemed like I cooked dinner early, read 3 magazines in 10 minutes, listen to music for 10 min, listened to audiobook for 20 min and then found myself going to sleep way to early.  I have solo hiked a bit, paddled solo a bit but the truth is, I enjoy being out there with others.

I wouldn't mind going on an expedition like Lure of the North, not knowing anyone but joining the group, no problem with me being shy.  But if you gave me the choice of a 7 day solo trip or a 3-4 day group trip, I honestly at this point in my life would enjoy the 3-4 day trip with the company of others.  Not thinking about safety, just companionship. 

It's an interesting topic, how does one enjoy doing something they normally don't do?   For the solo folks, can they really enjoy a trip for a few days in a group?  Then the opposite like me, can a people person go solo for a few days and really enjoy it?   

I'm glad to have done it and will probably try it again next season some time.   I did try posting pics, no luck.  It's my fault, I need to join some type of pic program.   Best to all, be safe.   

: Re: First semi solo trip
: Coldfeet March 14, 2018, 09:45:04 PM
Gearfreak - haha, I did that!  I was making videos for the campers.  I took like 5-6 videos because I kept messing up the 7-9 names of bosses and directors that i was thanking.  I might try to post that on Facebook and see if I can copy it.  Thanks 
: Re: First semi solo trip
: Dave Hadfield March 15, 2018, 09:41:51 AM
Regarding socks slipping down, pull them up over your long johns as high as they will go.

And camp where the firewood is, not the other way around.

Regarding boredom, solo tripping always a mental re-adjustment. We are social animals. It takes a few trips to adapt to a solo pattern.

One killer of boredom for me is a notebook. You can always dream up or design things, like the perfect workshop, or small sailboat, or garden, etc. But often most of the free-time when solo camping (there's none when you're solo travelling) is spent on fixing/repairing/altering pieces of gear. Having a decent sewing kit, with good strong waxed polyester thread, is very useful.
: Re: First semi solo trip
: snapper March 15, 2018, 10:59:51 AM
Coldfeet - I have to be honest, most of my trips have to be solo for two reasons:

1. There is no one near me anymore that likes to do what I like to do. 
2. If I can find someone, my usual weekend work schedule makes it difficult to plan things. 

All that being said, one of the reasons I'm so glad we were able to get a dog again is so I can have a "companion" when out on the trail.  She has a long way to go but so does her caregiver   ;D  Bottom line, it's nice to have her with me.  So far she seems to be a good trail dog and she loves the snow so that's a plus as well.  The biggest issue with her are all the snowballs that build up on her fur which can be difficult to remove since the snow mixes into her fur and holds on tightly.  Hopefully she'll transition back into the canoe again after a winter off.  She was getting the hang of being in the boat when I finally had to put it away last fall.  With any luck, last year's lessons will come back quickly when the time comes.

I know you said you wish you could "rent" a dog but I think, based on what you wrote, you might already have one that can go with you.  It takes a lot of work, and there are definitely times you'll worry about your pooch, but for me it's a lot better than always having to go alone.  If it really hits the fan I know there's nothing she can do for me but the companionship makes up for it in my opinion.  Of course, as the saying goes....YMMV.

That's all for now.  Take care and until next well.

: Re: First semi solo trip
: Bothwell Voyageur March 15, 2018, 03:26:21 PM
Hey CF

Glad to hear you got out for another trip but sorry to hear about your problems. Solo winter tripping can be hard work and needs a whole change of mind set. In the summer my solo trips often involve long days of traveling so I have much less time in camp. In the winter early darkness means an enforced period of rest.

Previous posts have pretty much covered the options, I enjoy the opportunity to read more complex books and have my Kindle along. I'll often switch between more serious stuff and lighter work to give my brain a break. Podcasts are good for listening to and you can download radio drama from Youtube if you have the right software. I think I prefer these to plain audiobooks as they have several actors speaking the parts. If you want to try radio it is worthwhile extending the antenna to improve the signal. I just use a simple double wire and alligator clips to improve reception.

Taking along nature I.D. books is good. Time spent learning to recognize trees and tracks etc is good to build into a day hike.

Also consider going for a night hike, if nothing else take time to look up the stars. Gear Freak has an app for constellation ID but just take the time to marvel think about concepts of time and space.

If you take a dog along be aware it can be really hard work. Our mutt has a great time but once tired she can switch from being a blur of activity to being a needy puppy that gets in your way. On a recent trip she was trying to get into the tent even before I had the poles into the fly. Then next morning she was up before breakfast and wanting to explore so I struggled to get on with the morning chores while trying to keep an eye on her. If I'm not careful she will head off hunting in the bush. During the day I will usually use a training collar to keep her attention if she wanders but will take it off at night and put her on a long leash just in case.

Look forward to more reports of your adventures.
: Re: First semi solo trip
: Coldfeet March 16, 2018, 05:52:30 AM
Thanks for all of your ideas, tons of experience out there, I could only imagine the years of winter trekking between you all.  Life is good, if I could go out tonight again I would.   I'm going to take all of that advise for future trips.   Even in my house I can begin to practice some of those skills such as sewing, whittling and even just listening to a podcast or audiobook.     My father used to sit me down in the late 60's and listen to old programs of the "Shadow" and "Fibber McGee and Molly" on the radio.  It's amazing how your suggestions stirred up memories from the past.  Hey, paddling season is coming up shortly, I will try a solo trip out there using your ideas.  Now I also understand why folks like to camp alone and then meet up during the day time, never understood that until listening to others.  Have a great day, health and happiness to all.

PS, I'm going to London to see my son in 2 weeks and thought about an overnight somewhere so I can say I camped out on another continent, he thinks I'm weird.  haha  be well.