Trip Report: -31.1*C (-23.98*F) in the Piney woods of Algonquin Provincial Park
-31.1*C (-23.98*F) in the Piney woods
This trip had a different feel to it compared to other group hangs I’ve been on. I think it’s because people were arriving and leaving at different times and different days coupled with the low temperatures which decreased the time spent sitting around and chatting. Nevertheless, it was a good trip where we were all able to venture out, challenge ourselves and ultimately do what we love-hanging in the woods.
Because of work, my trip started a day later with me getting to the park around noon on Saturday. I had been texting Lofty en route and we arrived at the east gate at the same time. I did not realize his son was so young and was impressed that he was willing to go hang in well below zero temperatures. Good on him and his Dad I say. After I got my permit I did some last minute repacking and drove to the trail head.
We planned on hiking up the Mizzy Lake Trail, one of Algonquin Parks day trails, and then veering off to find a spot near Source lake.
The trail was already broken for me courtesy of the fellas that headed out the previous day. I was thankful for this since there was about a foot or more of snow bordering both sides of the trail.
It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the hike in. I probably could have taken off my snowshoes but not having been on this trail before I did not know what to expect and so I left them on if for no other reason than added traction on the hills.
Lofty and his son had gone ahead of me and I was greeted by Hankster about an hour into my walk in. He told me it was only another 15 minutes to where they camped. I was expecting a longer trek but since they had already cleared the way, I was happy to get there much earlier than expected.
As I got closer I was greeted by Cedar in his friendly manner. As he was on his way for his constitutional with Jayson's home made “crap strap” I was glad to be going in the other direction. Soon I saw tarps in the woods. Mongrel was trying to get a picture of a grey Jay that was eating out of someone's hand earlier. A minute later I came upon the path leading to the fire pit. Unfortunately, Chenvre and PineMartyn were on their way out. It was good to see Chenvre again if only for a few minutes of good natured ribbing about his Yankee roots and it was nice to meet PineMartyn who hiked in just to meet us and check out some set ups. Hopefully he'll be out for an over nighter the next time. Jayson came out to greet me on his way to gather more wood with some others.
I have to give thanks to the trail breakers and to Cedar and Jayson for scouting out the site. I dropped my gear on the trail and walked over to the fire where I greeted Deep Thought and met Ozz. Jayson had a great big kettle and tripod set up over the fire providing us with a steady supply of hot water. After walking over to say hi to Mongrel I then set out to find a spot for myself. We were truly in the piney woods as there were no hard wood trees to be seen. Finding a spot was challenging. Every time I saw a potential hanging site from afar I was disappointed when I got there because the trees were either dead or had dead trees nearby increasing the widow maker quotient. Eventually I found a place and started to set up. In hammock camping set up is not faster than a tent or as fast as you might think. The tweaking we do seems endless but I finally got done.
After I made my dinner I went over to the fire to socialize a bit. The temps were dropping but everyone was in good spirits. Lofty's son was chopping wood and playing with the fire-pretty much what we all did at his age. People were coming and going and different conversations were carrying on as happens around a campfire. Since Chard, Jiblets or Ryvr couldn't make it we missed out on their company and on awesome group food of which they are typically the masters of preparing. I had dreams of chowder, banana bread and weenie wellingtons.
It felt pretty cold when I turned in and although I did not have a thermometre, I felt confident it was going to get near to my previous personal record low of -25*C (-13*F). My first night was ok. Had condensation problems with my WB travel sock and I did not tweak my UQ enough so I did get a few chills in the night. I'll have to make a frost bib for next time. I was informed by Jayson in the morning that it dropped to -27*C (-16.6*F). WhooHoo! A new personal record!
I spent the morning on my own just hanging out enjoying the sun and views, melting snow and munching.
Mongrel, Lofty and his son left fairly early with Cedar following soonafter. Jayson and Ozz decided to haul some gear out to make tomorrow's hike out a little easier and followed Cedar out. The cold temps made the trail hardpacked and so they would be back in a couple of hours. I went over to the fire and chatted with Deep Thought about the merits of drunk women while enjoying a pork chop from the grill courtesy of Hankster. After being rejoined by Ozz and Jayson, Hankster decided to head out. Deep Thought left near sundown leaving Jayson, Ozz and me to brave the final night.
With just the three of us there you got the feeling of having the park all to yourself. We huddled around the fire, ate some food and chatted for a while until the fatigue of the day and the cold took over sending us to our hammocks hot water bottles in hand. Jayson was going to switch it up from his WBBB and try his new WBRR for the first time. Ozz was still in fine form with his DIY UQ. I decided I would leave my travel sock open to cut down on condensation, wore an extra base layer and readjusted my UQ. As a result I had a warmer night and when I woke up at 2:00am to relieve myself I quickly turned on my phone to check the temp for the park...-31.1*C (-23.98*F)! Yay! Another new record low for me! In the morning, the others joined me at my hammock for a warm drink and to toast our survival before packing up and heading out.
The walk out was great. No snow shoes, sunny skies and crisp cool air. As I was crossing one of the lakes I had to stop for a second to take it all in.
I got back to my car satisfied with what I had accomplished and looking forward to the next trip.
-I love Zippos over other lighters I have used. Reliable, easy to light even with gloves and you don’t need to keep pushing a button for them to work.
-I love my Svea 123. I left it frozen on the ground overnight. In the morning I just added some fuel to the priming cup, lit it, and in a couple of minutes it was boiling waterr for my breakfast.
-After I had my constitutional I regretted not asking to borrow Jayson’s crap strap.
-Piney woods are great for an abundent supply of easily accessible firewood as well as small fuel wood for stoves but not great for campfire longevity.
-I think Deep thought should have brought his trumpet.
-You can meet some really great people on Hammock Forums.
I hope others can post pictures and share their experiences especially about the first day.
If you have read my ramblings so far, come back to this thread to see what others post.
Thanks for reading!
Edit: More pictures and reports posted in the thread.