Saturday, 16 March 2013

Winter Adventure

Winter Camping! Enter The Sun style ;)

Some of the things we brought with us (description below)

This week was March Break, so all of my students had the week off from dance class and I had the week off from teaching. While many people jetted off to much warmer climates down south, Brendan and I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some time outside here at home in Nova Scotia. Sure, there is still snow on the ground and the temperature is still dipping below freezing... but I do love a good adventure!

We are both very passionate about living close to the earth, and practicing the skills that allow us to do so - both in survival situations and in long term living. We decided that every year we are going to take at least one winter survival trip, even if just for a day, to practice survival skills and be close to the earth. Although it may not seem like the most desirable time to go 'camping', winter is an important time to practice those survival skills... it is a particularly challenging time of year as compared to summer! Not only does it give you a chance to practice these skills, but it can be a beautiful experience filled with great lessons.

For this trip, we only had a few days, so we packed up our bags instead of going full or semi survival... more like camping without a tent. The above photo is some of the items we took with us. It includes:
- Mittens, hats (and lots of wool sweaters, not pictured!)
- Bows handmade by Brendan, so we could practice archery
- Knives
- A bowdrill kit to start fires (center item). We made this before we left, from sticks gathered near our house. We carved the fireboard, spindle, and handhold, and made the bow. Pictured with the bowdrill kit is some birch fungus that is used as a coal extender, and some birch bark used as tinder.
- Glass waterbottle with a jute carrier we made before we left
- Small metal pot
- A few bags that we had made previously - two we tanned the leather and made buckskin bags, and one of the bags is made out of birch bark.
- A giant wool blanket.

Heading out... we didn't pack much of anything except lots of wool

And then we were off!

We set out early in the morning and found the perfect spot to set up our shelter. Our good friends own a large piece of land that is quite isolated which was perfect for our little adventure. It also meant that we were able to visit them/they were able to come visit us throughout the week to hang out and practice skills which was great! After walking for some time we lucked out and found a good spot where there were some downed spruce and hemlock trees, and decided to build our shelter there. For our shelter structure, we decided on something that was sort of a cross between a teepee and a debris hut. First we set up the poles, which we lashed together with small birch and hemlock branches. Then we piled on the spruce and hemlock... the more the better!
On the inside of the shelter, we piled lots of spruce on one side for us to sleep on. On the other side we had a small fire to keep as warm through the night.

I had never slept on spruce boughs before, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. As long as you don't have a big branch underneath you, they do the trick. Throughout the night we took turns staying up watching the fire and sleeping, about two hours at a time. We had to keep the fire small as it was inside our shelter which means we had to be feeding it almost constantly. Between that, and not wanted to burn the place down, we decided it was best to take turns watching it. Amazingly, it went by quite fast when it was your turn... fire really is caveman TV!

On our last day we were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day - the temperature was well above freezing, the sun was shining, it was amazing! Our friends joined us for a bit and we all had a great time. I got a chance to play with the slingshot that Brendan made me for my birthday, which was SO fun! Once I started using it, it was always in my back pocket.

We did lots of adventuring and exploring. We found really beautiful spots, discovered new ways of making things, and breathed in that wonderful fresh wild air. I also discovered what porcupine poop looks like! hehe ;)

I learned a lot about shelter building in the winter. I had never camped in the winter before, and this was a great introduction. I learned that the more spruce the better, especially around the bottom so that when you're inside, the wind doesn't get in. The time it took making the shelter was in itself a great teacher - even before you are putting the covering on, it takes some time and creativity to figure out how to hold everything together! It's definitely a great exercise in problem solving, as each time you make a shelter in a different place, or at a different time of year, your resources are different.

In so many ways, Nature is one of our greatest teachers (and it's a tweetable!).

It was a great experience and makes for a great story! And a huge thanks to our dear friends that we were able to visit with and share with.

The stages of building our shelter - cosy lil' earth home for two!

Melting snow by the fire for fresh water 
Taking a little break - shelter is finally almost done!
Making tinder for the fire
Nighttime inside the shelter
Nighttime - drying our clothes and melting snow inside our shelter
Enter that beautiful sun! ;)
Wahoo! Exploring on a beautiful sunny day!
Colour amazement and inspiration from nature
Shadow love
More colour inspo
Making an arrow shaft using a stone tool
Couldn't put this down
Brendan being stealth and practicing with some new arrows
Firewood collection
Amazing ice world, amazing reflections
Bold pops of colour even in the winter

Have you ever gone winter camping before? If you did, I'd love to hear from you about your experience! Or if you haven't, would you like to, and how can you make it happen? Leave a comment below!
All my love,


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