Winter Camping High Up in the Green Mountains - Vermont
So my friend and fellow woodsman Eric put together a little camping trip up in the Green Mountains. I love Vermont but Ive never been up to these mountains so I was excited.
We had a lows from -5 to 0 at night so I thought it'd be a good ole time to set up the tarp and dig myself a bed. There was about 18" of fresh snow and the forecast lookd clear.
Ive been cooped up recently healing up my hand so it was great to get out and swing some axes with some old friends.
Green Mountains - Vermont
Bryan let me borrow a spare sled. Much easier climbing thru the heavy deep snow with this and some snowshoes.
I usually carry much less but I figured I'd bring an extra wool blanket and some food just incase.
My shelter and bed. I didn’t take many photos the first day. We had a late start and with my hand still healing and the long uphill hike with gear in 5 degree weather I was needing water and food. Takes a long time to setup a tarp shelter when you’re slightly dehydrated, hungry, and rushing the beat the sun going down. Shelter was up, Bryan and I decided to try out some super shelters. Mine was a tad sloppy but oh well. I packed a bivvy incase the weather took a turn.
So the fire wasn’t really necessary but of course nice since it’s not camping unless you have a fire in my eyes.
I also didn’t have full coverage on the sides. So I used my snowshoes to shovel snow up to block some wind. Really with a bivvy you don’t want a fully sealed shelter.. air gaps are needed to help keep you dry in some ways since you sweat inside that waterproof bag.
A Proper Camp
This is my favorite year round shelter if you have two people. Two small lean to’s facing a long fire. We happen to set it up just right so the winds that whipped up the hill zipped right thru the shelters and kept the smoke out of our shelters.
The wood was a bit wet so standing near the fire wasn’t so great, but if you sat in the shelter it was perfect. Once the fire melted away the frost hardened ground it really warmed up the place.
In the warmer seasons I don’t bring a plastic front. Most think it's odd that I prefer an open air tarp to a tent, but really there is nothing like it.
It got real cold the first night. Forecast said 0 degrees (f) but it felt much colder. We had some strong gusts rip thru off the Somerset and the trees groaned.
Everyone else had hot tents except for Matt and Lloyd who had small tents. So everyone with stoves kind of hung around their tents and the ones without huddled around our fire.
It made for an odd dynamic compared to most group camps but in this kind of weather in all respects, it's not a normal campout.
But we're all seasoned woodsfolk and have been thru this before.
[ Bryan’s shelter totally beat mine. He made a raised bed built from some Cherry poles, and had things more tidy.He had to keep opening up the plastic cover to drop the temperature in there.
Woke up to a nice fire that Matt got going and breakfast was already cooking. Now this camping! This is also one of his blades he forged. We never penned a name for it, but its a mean bushcraft knife.
I haven't made myself a kuksa in a year or two so this is my new kuksa I carved recently.
I've carved over a hundred since my last keeper so I felt it was time I upgrade.
Jimbow the tea you sent me was a great way to christen it. Thanks man!
Cast iron breakfast... who needs hotels when they travel.. find a tree...sling a tarp..get the coffee fire started..done. You're camping.
Of course.. everyone forgot their utensils. Luckily I brought a couple. Matt was making a woodsman’s hash with eggs and this cooking spoon I carved came in real handy for stirring, folding, and aggressive scraping.
Carving a proper spoon that can also stand up to being thrown around in the canvas pack or used by a bunch of hungry barbarians isn't an easy feat. But this one has proved it's worthy.
Matt brought his cheese knife. His personal viking belt knife. Da'matt'scus steel..proper. I've seen hundreds of his knives, and this one is just the highlight of his craft so far.
Here is where we settled in. Right near a frozen creek bed in a little valley just above the Somerset Resevoir. Bryan and I had to setup a little farther away because we needed four trees spaced just right. There wasn’t much real estate between us and the hot tents and the winding creek so this worked out.
Unfortunately we ended up camping near a formula 500 snow mobile track but it was still a great time. A lot of the sleds stopped to take pics of us lunatics camping like hobos in sub zero temperatures.
Chateau Sweeney - Josh camped in there too. He usually camps in a hammock so this was like staying in a hotel I bet… well a hotel with snow and mud for a floor but still nice.
Lots of birch and cherry around here. A green woodworkers paradise.
After breakfast we all did some camp chores felling dead standing trees, and processing it up for it’s many tasks to become a fire.
Most of us have camped as a group before so things like this are second nature. Here they are throwing and stacking up the cherry log pile.
It was nice to see Chris again. I haven’t seen him since the last time we all froze to death last winter in Ohio where Josh is from.
This is the axe you brought winter camping?!? Usually you see Paul Bunyan axes. Lately Ive been into having a bucksaw and pocket axe. Seems to do the trick.
Also did some battening with my stick tang puukko. Works like a charm and makes a very fine carver. We designed this knife for that purpose. I carry it around my neck on a cord Schwert made for me.
I'll have a proper writeup in the next week or so.
I forgot to bring clips to hold the plastic on my shelter so I made some woodsman clothes pins.
- Here is a better photograph of Matt's protoknife that we haven't nicknamed yet. Something I like to always mention is that I have been slowly getting rid of any gear or daily use items in the house that have not been handmade by someone I know.
- This means in the house, shop, or the woods. The ale bowl was turned by another American fellow named Jarrod who makes these on a pole lathe.
I also brought along another luxury item since we were pulling sleds, I can carry a little extra than normal.
This stove is very finicky. With perfect fire wood, it charges fast but this wood was a chore. But it still cooks very fast and efficient.
Matt using my pocket axe to split some large rounds up into quarters.
In these cold conditions you get dehydrated a lot easier thru breathing so it’s always a good habit to bring an extra pot or pan to keep melting ice all throughout the day. This snow was pretty fresh, but I still like to boil just incase any nasties were knocking about on the snow surface.
I still have never been a fan of instant packet meals even when camping. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to cook what I like to eat at home. Why suffer and eat some manufactured mush packed with sodium when you can eat good? I can see the convenience but usually those foods come at a price.
So I cooked up some collard greens with bacon, bell peppers, onions and garlic. Damn it was good.
Another morning and breakfast was sizzling on the fire.
It was funny to see all the mors pots doing their jobs.