Freezing on the Backside... of Timp

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Ugly

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It has been a winter of endless new snow, some of it I have missed. Yet, some of it has been glorious.
Having President's day off opened a possibility, and with light snow flurrying around we disembarked where the cleared road ended.
The forecast, well, I had lived in Quebec and my friend is Swedish, so what was a forecast for a little more snow and -4d... Fahrenheit?

The only hope was that the clouds might clear by morning.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190010-sm copy.jpg


Being late in the afternoon, we saw more moose than people on the actual trail. The colors were grayscale mostly. The pack was only slightly heavy with a few extra essentials, extra layer, some gloves, shovel, and the extra just over pound of my 40d bag.
Up to the first hollow we made good time. We climbed some more, walked through the pines, sometimes stooping and snagging packs on branches that in summer are far overhead, and sometimes passing under tunnels of pine boughs laden down with snow.
Then we were at the second hollow and losing a little bit of daylight. We were not going for mileage, just a good view. The wind was a little stiffer, the snow a little heavier.
We took a left. Burning our calves with a stout climb in snow broken by only one path of shoes going up, and the same coming down. We knew the trail was up here somewhere.
Found it.
Went on a little more on untraveled snow,and the views opened up. We stepped on the feet of snow that had fallen over the past week.
We found some pines would break the wind just nicely.
The best part of winter camping is you can camp places normally difficult in summer.
We dug out and trampled down a partially protected platform as our bodies cooled.
The snow set quickly in these temps and soon we had a tent and camp setup.
Dinner was some hot and spicy Thai soup with a couple handfuls of leftover ribeye and a cup of hot cider.
Fingers exposed to the air tingled and numbed almost immediately, and feet were stomped constantly to keep some blood flowing as we ate.
After dinner, I stood for a couple of minutes in the cold air as I changed layers, shivering and mentally forcing my body to confront the cold directly, where any layer of clothing after this would be warm and cozy.
I think cold weather camping is like the cold side of the pillow. You can keep sleeping on the warm side, or you can flip it over and embrace it. I think it is funny that in summer 30d feels devilishly cold.
Once settled in I was warm... of course now I had my layered sleeping bags, down booties, and just my thermarest as we had forgotten the closed foam pads at home.
The moon lit outside up slightly, but was strongly filtered by the flurries of snow.
Around 145am the moon fully broke through.
I was not motivated to fully leave the stiffly frozen tent, but took this with my feet still in my bag.

Silver light, through fluttering snow in the stillness.
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Predawn twilight continued with more light snow. Temperatures had been dropping since about 230am when a stiff wind had come through, followed by dense cold air that dropped temps in the tent and elsewhere by at least 10 to 15 degrees. Now it was seriously cold. However, comfortable in be only my nose was feeling it, so I pulled my buff up over my face. At my toes, my sleeping bag was a little stiff from frozen condensation. My trail runners were frozen solid, as I had kicked them to the side of the tent as I had slept. I put the dry bag holding them back under my knees between bag and pad, but loathed when I would have to put them on.
I opened the door and lay there listening to the sound of the snow on the rain fly and listening to the breezy silence, well besides my buddy's snoring.
Then I could see the Timp peaking slightly through the misting snow.

Now I had to put on my shoes on...
It took a little while, and when I stepped from the packed snow and went in past my knee to settle in and setup my tripod, the snow was warmer than the air outside.
Still, I smiled.
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A little wandering, and some jumping jacks to warm up. However, the clouds were thickening and the temperature well... see for yourself.
IMG_5958.jpg

I think it beat the forecast.

Back into the tent for breakfast.
French toast, cheese and ham sandwiches with maple syrup butter. Wait...
Sandwich.
DANGIT! Only brought one sandwich, the other had been left in the fridge at home.
So we shared one sandwich.
Topped it off with a Key Lime Larabar, and we sat and talked while looking out into the white.
Eventually the clouds started to break up, and my smile widened as we put on shoes and began to wander. The rest of the morning was a snow photo orgy, so I will leave the dialogue a bit sparse and stop boring you.

Phases of Timp's north peak as the clouds and snow lifted.
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A few seconds of the gloves off to take cell phone shots, as my friend does here, left fingertips numb and tingling for a long time afterwards. My camera batteries were taking 5-10 shots and then saying they were out of power until I warmed them with my breath or against my chest.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190131-sm.jpg


The sun.
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Rainbow-banded clouds with Box Elder high above in shadow.
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Eventually we retreated to the tent as more clouds blew over.

My "cheap" snowshoes from Amazon passed 100 miles on this trip. Holding up nicely. Maybe I will do a review.
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Finally full sun glory.
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We eventually packed up camp, and took a few photos in the glorious sparkling snow and morning's deposit of hoarfrost.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190480-proc-sm.jpg


sparkly...
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190493-sm.jpg


Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190531-sm.jpg


So Nice.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190509-sm.jpg


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Then it was back down the trail.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190567-bw-sm.jpg


We started to see people. They told us of this moose. I honestly think she was a bit confused as to why so many people were on the trail on a Monday morning.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190589-sm.jpg


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Right near the bottom of the trail, we came upon one last obstacle. Ornery trail mates.
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190612-sm_1.jpg


She looked at us and grunted once. The calf had moved behind her, but she was saying to us. "Go Ahead. Make my day."
Pine Hollow Freee Fest 2-20190621_1.jpg


We retreated.
Making our own trail and soon were on the way home.
My fingers throbbed for a while, and typing the next day at work felt a little different, but this trip was worth it. Hoping for another slightly warmer adventure in a week or two.
 

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#3
Awesome photos, I really like the toning in some of them. Also it appears you have some photos out of order because it appears your "full sun glory" photo has some star trails in it as do a couple further down.

So snowshoes and trail runners in negative temps, that seems slightly crazy to me :) What does your shoe/sock system look like? What did you do once you got to camp as far as footwear, something like down socks I hope?
 

Jackson

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#4
Wow, that's cold. What a cool trip though. I just did a snowshoe overnighter in the Wasatch this weekend, and I thought our 5ish degree night was miserable. You guys are awesome.
 

Ugly

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Awesome photos, I really like the toning in some of them. Also it appears you have some photos out of order because it appears your "full sun glory" photo has some star trails in it as do a couple further down.

So snowshoes and trail runners in negative temps, that seems slightly crazy to me :) What does your shoe/sock system look like? What did you do once you got to camp as far as footwear, something like down socks I hope?
Thanks, the star trails are actually either falling snow, or just hoarfrost blowing in the wind from it being so cold.
As for footwear, I have done Sorels or heavier hunting style boots in the past when its been single digits and teens, but the extra weight just is too hard on my legs when climbing and leaves me cramping and loathing the weight. Plus, even when I put in insoles, the support just does not work for me. So I went back to trail runners. I know there are better boots, but it's hard to pay for those when I have gone many miles snowshoeing and snow hiking with just trail runners without a problem.

Normally, I just have the trail runners and some thicker wool socks, and always a second pair in the pack just in case I start to feel cold or do something... stupid... like step into a creek or if it is really slushy.

I do have down booties for camp, from REI, that my wife got me for Christmas a few years ago. They are heavenly. Just put them on with a pair of dry socks and my feet are toasty.

There are things you can get away with on an evening snowshoe, or a single overnight that you probably could not on a multiday trek, so I am sure there are others with better gear and systems. Always interested in what people do and have.
The truth is winter camping is really fun and not as cold and miserable as most people think once you dial into what works. I am happy with that though, never need to wake up some morning in one of these basins or ridges and feel like it is a Scout klondike with crowds milling about. :p
 
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#9
Wow - spectacular photos! I am not tough enough to attempt this, so it is great to live vicariously through your adventures. Thanks for sharing!
 

Miya

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#10
Moose, moose everywhere!!! How thrilling!! I cannot wait to see one, one day!

Snowshoeing at night time?! I cannot imagine...I would be scared haha. Thank you for sharing! (All your photos are beautiful) But the nighttime ones have such a lighting to them...so delicate and fragile and lovely! Thank you for sharing! I am glad you remained...unfrozen. :)
 

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Ugly

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Moose, moose everywhere!!! How thrilling!! I cannot wait to see one, one day!

Snowshoeing at night time?! I cannot imagine...I would be scared haha. Thank you for sharing! (All your photos are beautiful) But the nighttime ones have such a lighting to them...so delicate and fragile and lovely! Thank you for sharing! I am glad you remained...unfrozen. :)
Snowshoeing at night is actually the best. The snow reflects the light, the snow is hardening with the cold air, and it is so serene and peaceful. Well, except for the snowshoes pounding against the snow... sometimes I have to wear headphones to breakup that noise.
 

powderglut

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#12
Beautiful!!! Great pictures!! Classic cold winter trip.
Camping in these below zero temps reminds me of when I bought my first down sleeping bag in the mid 1970's. It was a Snow Lion down bag rated to -30F. Of course I had to test it out camped high above Steamboat Springs on Buffalo Pass in February. It hit -19F that night. I slept in the open, on a tarp and ensolite (turned to cardboard) pad. The bag performed admirably, I must say....but that was the only below zero experiment of exposed camping I ever did. Tents and snow caves were much more comfy. Amazingly enough.........I still have that sleeping bag today.
 

Ugly

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Beautiful!!! Great pictures!! Classic cold winter trip.
Camping in these below zero temps reminds me of when I bought my first down sleeping bag in the mid 1970's. It was a Snow Lion down bag rated to -30F. Of course I had to test it out camped high above Steamboat Springs on Buffalo Pass in February. It hit -19F that night. I slept in the open, on a tarp and ensolite (turned to cardboard) pad. The bag performed admirably, I must say....but that was the only below zero experiment of exposed camping I ever did. Tents and snow caves were much more comfy. Amazingly enough.........I still have that sleeping bag today.
That temp outside a tent is hard core... and on cardboard.. hahaha
 

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