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Posted: 1/21/2008 5:16:31 AM EST
To celebrate my birthday, I built a shelter and spent a few days camping in it and snowshoeing around it, like spokes from a hub.

Loaded up a sled (the plastic kind that ice fishermen use) with sleeping bag, axe, saw, shovel, pot, ground pad and miscellaneous, strapped on snowshoes, and off I went. A lot of my stuff is military surplus, because it's cheap, rugged, and inconspicuously colored. My parka, gaiters, mittens, mukluks, sweater, hat, and one firestarter are all from various militaries, mostly Scandinavian.

I told my best friend where I was going, and he surprised me by tracking me down with a celebratory bottle of port. He helped build the shelter, then stayed long enough to sit by the fire for a couple glasses. This is him starting work by the fallen red oak we've decided to use as the framework:



Here it is during construction, with hemlock and balsam boughs going on the floor, and young white pines and whatever as walls and roof:



Finished shelter. I spent two nights here, one of which went down to zero degrees fahrenheit with windchills from minus fifteen to minus thirty (wife was checking Weather.com), and a dusting of snow. The guy who helped build it wants to go try it out, so we're going back again later this week.



Here's the view from the inside looking out. I went through a lot of firewood, mostly the top of the fallen oak and some standing dead stuff near by. I was never cold except for my face, but I spent more time collecting firewood than any other activity, including sleeping.




cmmg
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 5:20:50 AM EST
[#1]
First fire was with a bow drill. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, despite the fact that it was snowing. I brushed the snow off a rock, put down a big piece of white pine bark, and shielded things by keeping my back to the wind. Got a good coal the first time, even with snow falling on the hearthboard, but couldn't blow it into flames. The second try was successful. (I realize that the fire gods are capricious, however, and that the next time I try to impress someone by starting a friction fire on a perfect, calm day, I won't be able to do it.) I figured I'd start subsequent fires the easy way, but my high-tech Brunton storm-proof lighter quit working. I used a fresnel lens for one, and synthetic flint and steel for the rest.






My first day, I climbed a ridge until dark without seeing any human tracks or even snowmobile trails. Came back down in the moonlight.

If nothing else, I have a talent for meeting interesting people. This is Laurie, whom I bumped into on my second day. She was out hunting rabbits with her beagles and bassets. I spent a couple pleasant hours tagging along. Saw a red fox and three turkeys, but no rabbits. She controls her pack with such beautiful vocalizations that I commented on them. Turns out she's a retired opera singer. Six billion people on the planet, but I bet not many of them are female opera singers who hunt rabbits on snowshoes for fun.


Link Posted: 1/21/2008 5:23:34 AM EST
[#2]
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 7:24:54 AM EST
[#3]
Wow thats freakin awesome!
Great pics and a cool improvised shelter!
Did you have any kind of face mask to keep face warm?

What did you eat?

What was the opera singer using for weapon to kill rabbits?
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 7:35:38 AM EST
[#4]
Very nice!  How restful was it to sleep in there?  I have had good nights and bad nights...  not always weather dependant.

The one thing I am always pushing people in my hunters ed class is how much wood you would burn trying to stay warm for one night.  You would almost need to stop at noon to build a decent shelter and cut enough wood to keep you thru the night.  Thats not a good way to hunt.  However, making a shelter like you did is something everyone should do just to appreciate the amount of work that goes into it.

I hope you dont go sleep in the woods for EBs birthday!
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 7:38:18 AM EST
[#5]

Quoted:

Did you have any kind of face mask to keep face warm?


I had a fleece neck gaiter that I could pull up.


What did you eat?


Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, moose jerky, moose stew, oatmeal, cocoa, tea, persimmon bread, egg and sausage quiche.


What was the opera singer using for weapon to kill rabbits?


Some kind of revolver, I didn't get a good look at it.
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 7:42:45 AM EST
[#6]

Quoted:
...How restful was it to sleep in there?  ...


Usually, I don't sleep particularly well my first night in the woods, and I sleep like a rock the second.  

Even if I'm not sleeping, I enjoy looking at the fire, trees, moon and stars and listening to the wind, critters, ice expanding and trees freezing.



I hope you dont go sleep in the woods for EBs birthday!


I don't get much sleep any time she's around. I have to go on trips to stay alive.  
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 7:54:07 AM EST
[#7]

Quoted:

Even if I'm not sleeping, I enjoy looking at the fire, trees, moon and stars and listening to the wind, critters, ice expanding and trees freezing.



I hope you dont go sleep in the woods for EBs birthday!


I don't get much sleep any time she's around. I have to go on trips to stay alive.  


Yeah, one nice thing about winter nights is you can wake up on and off, feed the fire, make some tea, listen to the woods... and still get a decent nights rest.  And its never really that dark out with a good snowcover and your eyes used to the dark.

Ahhhh, so this was a survival exercise in more ways than one!    Looks like you are doing well for yourself.

I dont have the time to do too much of that at the moment and seeing the pics makes me miss it all the more.  Looks like a nice set up overall.  I have a hard time finding a tree base that nice.... seems like most of them are filled with water/ice or rocks so I end up building on the other side.  
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 8:02:14 AM EST
[#8]
Very nice!  Thanks for the report and pics.
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 9:14:03 AM EST
[#9]
Wow,
Happy Belated Born on date first off.

But WOW, sound and looked like  a great time.  The lass with the hounds - what a surprise.

I'd love to do some snowshoe hiking/camping one of these days - if we ever get some snow & don't have to drive 3hrs for it.

Great post.  I'm green with envy!
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 8:47:37 PM EST
[#10]
Great post and fun time out in the woods. Happy birthday!  I will have to do that next year for mine.

I have run into my share of topless hikers but not in winter!  I never asked if they were opera singers
Link Posted: 1/21/2008 11:21:53 PM EST
[#11]
Nice post and pics. I GOTTA get up to NH !
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 4:59:41 AM EST
[#12]
Happy Birthday!

Looks like a nice trip, you really do practice what you preach!  Better than me that's for sure!!!

Oh and anyone else think of Elmer Fudd singing "Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit"???  

You usually don't meet a  lot of ne'er do wells in the woods in winter, at least not expending their own physical energy to get out there.  Sounds like you met an interesting lady.  I've met a couple attractive trout anglers through the years.  

I figured you had to make a bedding for the ground (it takes the phots a while to come through on dial up, so I read the text., most of the empty holes from blown over trees that I've ever seen are filled with water or ice.  I wonder if it's feasible to build the shelter on the other side to avoid the predominant winds?  I know you'd be in a shelter less than half the size as the up wind root side.

SoS
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 5:05:40 AM EST
[#13]
Can I get some more info about your fire bow?  What type of wood for each part, etc?

Link Posted: 1/22/2008 5:08:14 AM EST
[#14]

Quoted:


I figured you had to make a bedding for the ground (it takes the phots a while to come through on dial up, so I read the text., most of the empty holes from blown over trees that I've ever seen are filled with water or ice.  I wonder if it's feasible to build the shelter on the other side to avoid the predominant winds?  I know you'd be in a shelter less than half the size as the up wind root side.

SoS


Ha Ha Ha....

See my post above.... sounds like we find the same blow downs.  Ya never know when you might wake up and find a Rodent on the other side of the root ball!
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 5:37:32 AM EST
[#15]

Quoted:

Quoted:


I figured you had to make a bedding for the ground (it takes the phots a while to come through on dial up, so I read the text., most of the empty holes from blown over trees that I've ever seen are filled with water or ice.  I wonder if it's feasible to build the shelter on the other side to avoid the predominant winds?  I know you'd be in a shelter less than half the size as the up wind root side.

SoS


Ha Ha Ha....

See my post above.... sounds like we find the same blow downs.  Ya never know when you might wake up and find a Rodent on the other side of the root ball!


Ooops, sorry I was on the phone while reading this thread and must have skimmed right over your comments.  My bad.  

I've done one shelter over the bole of a tree (kinda like a canoe and tarp) and recall the wind blowing pretty steady under the tree.  It was only fall not dead of winter.  

This winter while hunting in the adirondaks I was frequently sitting near these blow downs and as it warmed a lot of dirt clods and rocks fell from the roots as I sat there.  With my luck I'd get brained in my sleep from a soft bal sized rock coming loose due to my fire.
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 5:42:30 AM EST
[#16]
Very Nice,  Ive done alot of the same, but using only 18th Century gear.  Last winter was the first time since boy scouts that I had done any winter camping with modern gear.

Link Posted: 1/22/2008 11:57:06 AM EST
[#17]

Quoted:
Can I get some more info about your fire bow?  What type of wood for each part, etc?



I have spindles and hearths made of Balsam Fir, Willow and Sage. Google "fire by friction" and have fun.
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 1:47:00 PM EST
[#18]
thats awesome, id love to try that some day
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 1:55:06 PM EST
[#19]
Next time try a snow cave.  They're fun to sleep in.
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 2:01:54 PM EST
[#20]

Quoted:
Next time try a snow cave.  They're fun to sleep in.


Been there, done that. The problem is, you're soaking wet by the time you get one built.
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