It was kind of last minute. My night in a lavuu last week had put some fire in my belly about sleeping outdoors again. Too long I've been lying around wishing I had this piece of gear or waiting for that piece of gear to turn up. I thought about the kids that had slept in the lavuu with myself and the instructor. Of their cheap, heavy sport-store sleeping bags. Of their unfettered joy of sleeping beneath the stars. Friday night dinner plans fell through and suddenly I had the opportunity to go with my motive. I was stuffing clothes and a tent into my backpack within minutes and heading out the door.
This was the first time I've ever gone camping on my skis. I'd been discussing camping, skiing and pulk use with some friends on-line earlier in the day and instead of slipping into my Icebugs and trudging into the hills I locked myself into my skis and gracefully (!?) slipped out of the city.
The streams that drain this area are open and flowing, for the first time since before Christmas. I'd missed their gurgling accompaniment to my wilderness travel. It heralds the march of Spring.
Camp was reached after some difficult trail breaking. To reach this bench of flat ground I had to ski over some clear cut forest, the pick-up-sticks of felled branches covered in deep snow. My trusty Laser Comp didn't get a taut pitch either. Without snow stakes I was forced to use sticks as deadmen, my skis, a ski pole split in two and a nearby tree to keep it somewhat upright.
I find food crucial to keeping me warm. I eat little and often and find it keeps my metabolism ticking over and keeps me active, fetching snow and checking the stove. After spending an hour or two fiddling with guylines, carving out a snow seat, fashioning a kitchen area and collecting firewood I soon cooled when I sat back to admire the fruits of my labour. Tomato cup-a-soup made with melted snow never tasted so good.
The sentinel spruce trees that framed the view from my snow chair. As darkness fell the constellation of Ursa Major appeared between them, silently and slowly wheeling away across the night.
Be prepared... to learn that lighting a fire in the freezing cold isn't as easy as it is in the summer...
... but it's worth persevering. I was thankful I took a proper knife with me. Battening 1inch twigs to find dry wood would have been just a little difficult with a razor blade.
After waking from dreams of cowboys I emerged from my down filled cocoon to a pre-dawn sky studded with constellations. A double espresso and a freezer bag of raisin porridge, eaten with gloved hands, was a great way to start the day. The world went from inky black, to pink, to blue as I broke camp. I battled my way back down to the ski trail and truly woke up with a blast of adrenalin and freezing wind when I careered back towards the city, top heavy, on skinny skis and a big backpack.