Spring has sprung! Part 2

After we got into our sleeping bags it was time to recollect the days adventure. The boys were mighty proud of how tough they had been walking the 4 kilometres from where we parked the car. The camp boss had to agree they had been super tough walking for so long in terrain that was almost impassable.

Then we fell a sleep one by one. I usually wake up a few times a night when I sleep in a sleeping bag, and this time was no different. The first time I woke, the two boys were talking in their sleep, almost as they were talking to each other. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but it was enjoyable. The second time I woke up this night i woke myself up by snoring, that happens sometimes, but it’s not a good thing when we are supposed to be as silent as we can to not startle the birds that come in to sit in the trees around the marsh at night. So after falling asleep again, we slept till 4:30 in the morning. It was quiet. No birds had started playing yet, which is not usual. They often start around 4 in the morning, but not now. So we dozed of again and woke up an hour later. Unfortunately no birds had showed up, but now we could hear at least two making their distinct playing sound in some trees not too far from the tent. The boys had been surprisingly quiet, they really wanted to see the birds up close so I started to try to lure them in with my limited call skills. They didn’t get fooled this time, so we had to be satisfied with just hearing them from a distance this time.

So we got out of our sleeping bags and started the day. The boys immediately ran out on the marsh, they only had time to put on their boots before they took of. I started with breakfast, which was some bacon this time. Bacon is always good, but cooked on a campfire it’s even better. The boys got back from their morning exploring with their boots filled with snow, so we had to dry them up a bit while breakfast was consumed.

Drying up in the morning sun.

When breakfast was over we got dressed and started packing down some of our gear. Actually we left most of it, but that’s a story I will come back to. The boys got around for some more playing on the marsh while I sat down for a cup of coffee, the best kind, kettle brewed.

The best kind of coffee.

After the coffee and some lazy time in the heather, I called the boys in to get ready to go. As they got back they went to the campfire to play with some sticks and at that moment disaster struck! The teddy bear or or bunny as it is called fell into the campfire. The camp boss quickly told the boys to not pick it up by themselves so it took a few seconds before I could get it out. Luckily she got away with not to severe burns, some fur was burned away but she’ll live to be cuddled another night.

As we were ready to go the other boy almost sobbed as he could not find his teddy bear or tiger cloth as he is called. I asked him where did you see him last and he replied”in a tree” then I asked which tree? “I don’t remember” he said. So, then we started backtracking looking up in every tree he thought it could be in. After walking around for half an hour we found it! It had fallen from the tree it was stuck in and down a hole in the snow. The relief was huge as we have a leave no teddy bear behind policy.

Then we were on our way. The trip home was led by the boys, and they were not too bad finding the way, only some small corrections from time to time. The way home was a little bit easier than the way in as we walked in our own tracks so the snow didn’t give away so easy. After going for a while the youngest tripped head first down a puddle of mud, he was ok, but the bunny got the most of it. She got really dirty and might have not made it if he hadn’t been so resolute when he pulled her up.

Bunny getting some tlc when we have a break on our way home.

Luckily the rest of the trip home was without any more incidents.

As I wrote earlier in the post we didn’t take all our gear with us home. There are two reasons for this. One is that we are going back this weekend and the second I will reveal in my next post.

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All 3intheforest is ready for new adventures this weekend.

The last trips we have been on we have only been two out of three, but this weekend we will be full force. The plan is to try some ice fishing again, but the weather is not on our side. It’s raining and the temperature is around +5C. Not ideal when the kids love splashing in water and I have to try keep them dry. The fishing conditions should be good, we have warm southern winds, so the fish should be active and willing to bite.But we have to try, if they get to wet and cold, we might have to abort the trip or jump into the sleeping bags early.

One of the boys fishing on one of our earlier trips.
A picture from a trip last spring, when the weather was a bit warmer.

And due to the rain, we will be using a tent this weekend. There won’t be any stars to look at, and the kids really enjoy staying in the tent. They can play and have fun in the tent for hours, even if the weather is good, so if it’s bad weather I might not be able to get them out. Even if it’s wet and soggy outside, it gives a little warning that spring might be around the corner.

From a nice and warm trip last April.
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What you’ll need for winter camping, part 3

Then we have the feet. They are important for a number of reasons, especially walking. And if they get cold, your whole body will feel uncomfortable and after a while you will freeze all over. So, how to dress your feet. First use a thin wool sock, then a thicker wool sock. I only use wool on my feet. Since the feet are crammed in a quite tight place, where moisture have little chance of escaping wool is the number 1 choice since it got the ability to keep warm even if its somewhat wet. So my advice is to leave your cotton and polyester socks at home. Your boots may need some adjustment too. The inner sole of your boot may be great for forming after your foot, but they might not insulate good enough from the cold ground. I buy boots a half or one size bigger than my feet, so i can insert a wool sole inside, approximately 7,5 millimeter thick. They might be possible to buy, but i make my own from an old wool carpet I have had for decades. This is what I use in my hiking and cross-country shoes. This works great for me, i rarely get cold feet, even when it`s down to -25 C. But, there is a but, if you get really wet on your feet, you will get cold. So always have extra socks in your backpack. This is paramount. Here comes a survival tip. Change to dry socks as soon as possible and if your boots are wet, which they probably are if your socks are, have a couple of plastic bags in your backpack, pull them on outside your socks and put on the wet boots. This way your new socks won’t get wet and cold. Wear it till you get the chance to dry your boots.

Here is one of the boys getting ready for some winter fun

We are still not finished with clothing, now we go to extremities. They are very important to look after. They get cold the fastest, and when they do, things quickly get harder to do. Its not only the freezing it self that’s bad, its also that you lose feeling in what you do. For example, when your fingers get really cold, simple things like packing your backpack can seem almost impossible. It hurts and you lose your strength. So we start with the mittens. I use a double layer mitten, they usually come with a fleece inner layer and a polyester outer layer. They work fine, but I replace the inner layer with a thicker wool mitten. Call me old fashioned, but I think wool works better if they get a little wet. The outer layer is also good to use with gloves inside. The reason for the double layer is that you can remove the outer layer and have better movement and feeling in the hand for setting up a tent or cooking. I also recommend an outer mitten with an elastic band lanyard, so when you take them off they won’t get lost.

Out in the cold, eating a on an icicle. Good times!
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Plan long trips, do “near trips”

Our family do quite a lot of “near trips”. This is when we just walk out of the door and go to the forest. Since this is something we do often, we don’t plan to much. We have our backpacks packed with the basics, it’s just some extra clothes according to the weather and the kind of food we want that need to be packed. On these near trips, we are at the most 3 km from our front door. Between us and those 3 km it’s literally thousands of campsites. We never need to stay at the same place if we don’t want to. But for some reason we usually end up at the same location at least for a couple of times. I actually like that, you get a feeling of safety and comfort when you know the place you stay. And when you have found a good spot it is for a reason. There might be an abundance of firewood or easy access to water and a nice view, most of the times it’s all of those. But on these shorter trips, it’s just do it. No need to hesitate, walk out the door and find a nice spot. This is also applicable if we drive somewhere and park car. If we walk up to 3 km from the car it’s also a “near trip” .

For the longer trips, we need to do some planning. We have to go over the map to find a route and a area where we can set up camp. We get to assess the are we are going into. On the map we can spot dangers we can encounter, like steep cliffs or areas prone to avalanches in the winter. Other things to think about on longer trips is all the other small stuff you need to bring. Like a spare or repair kit for the tent poles. Or an extra tip for your skies. These are things you seldom need, but they are invaluable when you do need them. I will get more specific on this topic in later posts.

The boys are ready for a new and exciting day in the forest

On our way home, the boys have put on their skis by themselves and headed home, luckily in the right direction.

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What you’ll need for winter camping, part 2

Now that we have gone trough how to get a decent sleep outside in the winter, its about how to have a nice time during the day. First and foremost when camping during winter is to try to stay dry, if you get wet, you’ll freeze much faster. And the most important place to keep dry is  your feet. If your feet get wet and then cold, the rest of the body will most likely turn cold to. I will go through what I recommend to wear in winter. I will start closest to the body with a thin wool underwear, I personally do not care what kind of wool it is made of, but Merino wool is non-itchy, so many people prefer that. As a second layer its good to use a medium thick fleece that helps to transport moist away from the body. This layer is most important to have on your upper body as an adult, but on the kids i use on both lower and upper body. What we have gone trough now, is good when you are on the move or do tasks in the camp when its not to cold. If there is low activity like making food or ice fishing, I would add another layer. This would be a thick wool sweater a thick fleece sweater, but i recommend wool.  And last the outer layer. Here you need something wind and waterproof. The lighter and thinner it is is best, but those jackets and pants are really expensive, so I have never had one, my outer layer might be a bit heavy and bulky, but it have served me well for years. For the kids i prefer putting them in a snowsuit, these are usually well insulated and somewhat waterproof and as far as I know windproof. If its colder then -5 C the kids won’t get wet, since they are so well insulated that the snowsuit will be as cold or colder than the snow, so it won’t melt on the suit. This was the body, the next part will be more detailed about what to wear on the feet, hands and head

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