Saturday, January 28, 2012

Three Consecutive Winter Camp Weekends

My son and I slept in a tent last night on our troop's camp out about four miles from last week's Klondike Derby. Last week the low temperature for the night hovered around 35°F. As described in the linked post, it was wet and rainy. Last night the sky was completely clear all night long. The stars were amazing. The low temperature was very close to 0°F.

Despite the recent snowstorm, there was far too little snow to construct a proper snow shelter. Nor was it of a quality that could be used for an adequate shelter. The 7-8 inches of snow that was on the ground was hard, crusted, and crystalline. It wouldn't pack worth a darn. So, like last week, we campers resorted to tents.

Actually, only my son and I slept in a tent last night. The rest of the troop's campers slept in a cabin heated by a wood burning stove. Nobody else came prepared to brave the low temperatures.

It was cold getting into our sleeping bags. But we have good bags that are rated for this kind of weather. There was very little breeze of any kind during the night. There was no precipitation. But the tent still offered very little insulation. Still, once inside the bags, we were OK.

My young son slept plenty warm. I bring a knit cap with me on cold weather camp outs. If it's cold enough, I don my cap. The colder it is, the further I pull the cap down on my head. Last night I pulled the cap all the way down until it covered the tip of my nose. I cinched up the sleeping bag hood so that only my nose stuck out—just enough to breathe.

Despite my gear and preparations, my feet were cold much of the night. I have noticed that since developing hypothyroidism, my extremities (especially fingers and toes) get cold very easily. It's almost as if they can never really get warm, despite taking the proper dosage of Levothyroxine. Even in the hottest weather, my fingers and toes only feel marginally comfortable.

I still slept relatively OK throughout the night. But I have determined that for future cold weather camp outs I will have to come prepared with glove warmers. If temperatures warrant it, I will have to activate a couple and chuck them into the bottom of my sleeping bag half an hour before bedding down.

We broke down part of our gear before breakfast, and took care of the rest after breakfast. I guess I was hoping that the rising sun would melt the frost and dry out the tent. It soon became clear (as it warmed up to somewhere around 12°F) that this was a vain hope. We pulled everything down and dried it out in the driveway once we got home.

I don't mind supporting scout camp outs. But I'm glad that this particular compacted season of three weekends in a row is finished. I think my wife is happy about that too.

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