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Author Topic: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report  (Read 1073 times)

Offline rbinhood

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A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« on: February 19, 2018, 09:44:13 pm »
This past weekend, a friend and I joined three other Winter campers for an outing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Let me say at the outset that I forgot to take pictures while we were set up, so you will have to live with my written report, and a few pictures taken by lonetracker.

The three fellows we met were all hammock cold campers. https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4667/40333833462_5afc627e80.jpg They did have a large fire going all day to stay warm next to. https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4671/40333837432_dbd5677829.jpg

My friend and I hauled in a large silnylon tipi that I own. https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4653/40333832282_aa8eb81922_z.jpg

I originally had a canvas wall tent packed, but going with the tipi saved us about 6 lbs. We had a small 4 Dog Ti stove for heat. Cots to sleep on with Exped down mats under us. My dog, Kipper, accompanied us. He is a Hungarian Vizsla, so he is really not equipped with a good fur coat for cold weather. Daytime temps were in the mid-twenties F, so he would be fine as long as he was running around.

We cut dead standing maple for the wood stove. It appeared to be dry, but seemed a bit too heavy to be totally dry wood. We got a good fire going in the woodstove with some smaller branches and the tipi heated right up to about 70 deg F.

One of the other campers brought a fold over, hinged metal grill with a nice handle that I borrowed to cook our dinner of marinated beef bottom round. The grill saved us from having to cut wood skewers to cook the meat on. About the time I got all of the meat sandwiched in the grill and over the fire, the clip on the handle let go, the grill sprung open, and most of the meat was catapulted into the  fire. We scrambled to pull the meat out of the fire and managed to recover all of the pieces before they burnt up. The wood ashes covering the meat added a nice compliment to the delicate flavors of the sesame ginger marinade.

I forgot the frozen vegetables back home in the freezer, so dinner was rounded out with two foil covered sweet potatoes baked on top of the wood stove. A few words spoken at the perpetual wood fire and a glance at a night sky full of stars, and we were ready for bed.

After retiring to the tipi, we stuffed the woodstove with some of the bigger pieces of maple, which were about 3-4" in diameter. I had already retired to my sleeping bag when I realized the wood was clearly damp, so I told my friend who was still up and moving around to adjust the draft on the stove to give it more air, and to also adjust the damper in the stove pipe to do the same. My friend was not familiar with the stove, so he managed to open the draft and the damper all the way up(I could not see the front of the stove from where my cot was), which was fine while the damp wood burned slowly inside the stove. I fell asleep all warm and comfy, thinking how nice it was to have the 4 Dog simmering away, and taking the chill off the night inside the tipi.

It has been my experience that when you stuff a wood stove that already has a good bed of hot coals in it with damp wood, eventually the damp wood dries out. You now have the draft and damper open to give more oxygen to help the damp wood burn well, but when the wood eventually dries out, if you are not paying attention to the stove, all of the extra combustion air will cause the stove to take right off like a rocket.

I fell asleep with my back to the stove, only to wake up about an hour later to find my that my backside facing the stove felt like it was getting broiled. I rolled over to see the stove glowing cherry red like a meteorite in the middle of the tent, and about the first 4' of pipe glowing the same red color. Panicked, I rolled off of my cot and pushed the draft shut from the side, and closed down the damper, too. Because I adjusted both the draft and the damper from the side, I could not tell how much I managed to close either one, but the stove settled right down and I again fell fast asleep with visions of snow nymphs dancing in  my head.

The dog took up shelter starting on the foot of my cot, tucked in behind my bent legs. All seemed well at this point in time, and the tipi was a very comfortable warm temperature inside as the stove gradually slowed down.

I awoke a couple of hours later to the dog shivering at the end of my cot. My face was cold, and I could no longer see flames from the stove flickering on the tipi wall. I then realized that my earlier attempts to regulate the draft and damper on the stove had gone too far, and I thought I had managed to choke it out. In my haste to pack I had forgotten to bring a flashlight, and I did not feel like getting out from under my warm sleeping bag to try to restart the fire. We had good down bags and would survive the night without a fire.

The dog did not take well to surviving the night without a fire. He was laying at the end of the cot shivering like a hound dog crapping a peach seed, to the point that the cot was shaking so bad I could not fall back alseep. I had my bag open and draped over me like a quilt when I fell asleep in the warmth of the previously burning stove, so I lifted up the corner and invited the dog under it, an invitation he happily obliged. He promptly crawled under the bag with me and slid right up next to me to take advantage of my body heat. Although it was dark in the tipi and I could not see the dog, I suspect he had a smile on his face at that point in time.

If you are familiar with down air mats, you know that they have two valves, one to let in air as you are pumping the mat up, and one to let air out when you are deflating it. In his haste to join me under the sleeping bag, the dog managed to step on the cover to the valve used to inflate the mat. Although that valve will hold air in the mat, it does not seal well without the cover locked down on top of it. Slowly, without me being aware of it, the mat began to leak air and collapse. Filled, a down mat is very warm to sleep on. Collapsed, it was like sleeping on the 4 degree air that was now inside of the tipi without the woodstove going. Suffice it to say, the dog slept well. Me, not so good.

I woke up in the morning feeling like I had been run over by a Mack truck. Old bones, especially hip bones and back bones, do not handle sleeping on a cold cot very well. We managed to leave the cooler outside the tipi, so the bananas that we hauled in were frozen like metal horseshoes. At that point, a decision was made to break camp early, haul our stuff out to the truck, and head for breakfast at the restaurant in town. The last thing I did before striking the tipi was carry the wood stove outside to empty the dead ashes out. You can imagine my surprise when I dumped the stove, only to find plenty of still glowing coals inside to have been able to relight it during the night when I thought it had gone out. Never let it be said that a 4 Dog stove will not hold a good bed of coals.

In the end, a good time was had by all. In hindsight, you can laugh at most anything that you survive.

« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 10:56:17 pm by rbinhood »
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
Henry David  Thoreau

Offline Jawax

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2018, 08:48:32 am »
I couldn't agree more with your last line.  In the moment, we hope everything in our travels goes easily and smoothly, but in the long run those days are more easily forgotten.  It's the adversity we face and how we survive that creates lasting stories.  Sounds like a great trip, and one you and your buddies can laugh about years from now. 

Offline TZBrown

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 09:05:32 am »
Any day or night in the woods beats a day in the city  :)

Thanks for sharing the adventure
Life's A Journey
It's not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body,
But rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
Woo Hoo!....What a Ride!

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Offline Bkrgi

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2018, 01:27:55 am »
Nice one ...call that a adventure to remember
Living warm in North x Northwest BC
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Offline rbinhood

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2018, 11:05:50 pm »
Added a few photos to the report that were taken by one of the hammock campers.
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
Henry David  Thoreau

Offline Moondog55

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2018, 11:46:43 pm »
Well written
Maybe the dog needs a new cot and sleeping bag if its own?

Offline Dave Hadfield

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 02:24:00 am »
Great report.

Smart dog.

Offline ravinerat

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 08:17:32 am »
Great report and learning experence. I've given up on all these blow up mats. I went back to my original 20 yr old Thermarest and Ridgerest. Got to love our dogs. Don't think mine would survive winter camping.

RR
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Offline troutfisher!

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 02:21:23 pm »
Great story!  Sounds like a fun time.  Where it the UP were you?

Offline rbinhood

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2018, 08:18:07 pm »
Langford Lake, about 20 miles west of Watersmeet.
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
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Offline walknabout

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2018, 02:22:54 pm »
Dog always wins....at least in my camp :)
Thanks for sharing, that tipi looks tight!!

Offline cousin Pete

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Re: A Comedy of Errors Trip Report
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2018, 07:19:34 am »
Hello rbinhood:  Those situations that get screwed up when camping are a pain at the time but they make for good stories  down the road.  Thanks for sharing.

Take care,
Cousin Pete
"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908