BUUURRRRR!!! First cold weather trip of the year and first cold weather trip in about a decade. I spent three days and two nights on the Manistee River Trail in northern Michigan. Had a great time once I remembered how to camp in the snow...
Drove up on Monday excited to see the seasons first real snow fall. The area had received about 4-6 inches Sunday and had more in the forecast. I arrived at Seaton Creek TH and planned to hike into the same location the HF group hang did a Oct hang earlier this year.
Loaded the pack up and heading in. Temps in mid twenties so I was very comfortable hiking in. It was snowing pretty good on the way in and the hike took about two hours or so. I had some new gear with me to test out including boots, stove, and tarp.
Arriving at the camp I decided to head down into the pine stand below as it was quite windy on top of the hill. Down in the pine stand it was better sheltered from the wind. I started to unpack and get things set-up. First the tarp... Oh Boy... I'd purchase a Kelty 12 and had set it up a few times in the week proceeded the trip but never was too happy with it. Well, I wasn't very happy with the set-up this time either. But I went with it and got the rest off camp setup.
One thing I forgot about winter camping, KEEP HANDS AND GLOVES DRY!!!! Setting up in the snow I got my hands and gloves pretty wet, lucky for me I had a extra pair of liners to use after finishing setup but my hands were COLD!!! Made dinner, made a small fire, and turned in early 7:00 pm, not much to do in the woods after dark sets in...
First night it snowed all night long on and off, with poor tarp setup this created a few minor problems but nothing major. Temp got down to around 18* that night but I was fairly warm overall. Suffered from cold feet at some point, got up had a cup of hot choc and went back to bed. Woke up around 8:30 and got things moving. I found I was the coldest in the mornings to the point were my hands physically hurt.
I'd planned to do the whole loop but with my cold hands I figured I'd hike back towards the car and then head down stream on the MRT proper for a few miles and see how it goes. Once I got started things heated up nicely, I covered around 7-8 miles in fresh powder snow from 8-16" deep. BEAUTIFUL!!!! Temps in mid 20's and light snow most of the day.
Passed many small creeks and streams as well as several designated camp sites. I ended up staying about 1/4 mile north of Slagle Creek TH. Awesome site just north of large foot bridge over Slagle Creek. Setup camp and focused on setup of tarp, MUCH BETTER... Had plenty of daylight to waste so took several small hikes down trail as well as off the beaten path into the woods.
Dinner time came and I decided to fix a new meal I had brought. Flour shells, instant taters, cheese, bacon bits, and fried onions.... Fantastic after a long day on the trail. I did notice that the jetboil was taking longer and longer to boil water. Not a big deal I thought as I had a full fuel canister to start and it's good for 12 liters according the Jetboil.
After dinner filtered water with DIY gravity which I slept with the prevent freezing and decided to mess with tarp setup some more. Added trekking pole to one side and was happier with results.
Getting ready for an early bedtime I made a cup of hot choc... Thirty minutes later I had warm choc, UMMM.... Not looking good for jetboil, it wasn't brutally cold, around 18* again. Aways off to bed, another long nights sleep with light snow all around. woke up at one point and checked temp at 16*. Again, cold feet, but nothing earth shattering.
Woke up on day three, same start as day two... BURRRR!!! Started jetboil and off for a short hike to warm up some. Came back after fifteen minutes, water barely warm.... NOT HAPPY!!!! Checked fuel canister... Almost empty what the heck... It seems that at cold temps Jetboil has an issue with BTU output but still uses fuel at approximately same time related comsumption rate.... Made the desicion to bailout on the rest of the trip as it would be a cold couple of days with no hot food or drink.
Packed up and hiked out to Seaton Creek under beautiful skies fresh blanket of snow on my tracks in... Man, what a great trip ever if it got cut short....
New Equipment Verdict...
TARP - Passed with proper set-up
BOOTS - Worked Great
STOVE - FAILED great for warmer weather but I'll be dragging white gas stove next time...
Pics to come when I figure out how to insert into post...
For now here's gallery: