Okay, let me see if I can get this thread started while my sweet wife is cooking me some eggs and sausage and biscuits! Looks like we have a current record established for the max thermometer low reading (not counting windchill and multiple other variables).
Now, how about just your most miserable outdoor experience related to being colder? Not counting breaking a leg, or being attacked by a bear, or waking up to find yourself sleeping in a whole bunch of poison ivy, or even being struck by lightning. Although, I suppose that would make a good thread in and of itself. Miserable outdoor experiences regardless of cause! But for right now, will just limited to experiences that could lead to hypothermia.
I'll start. Old hands at Hammock Forums just skip this. ( except to post your own experiences)I have related these stories here several times before over the years so you've probably already read it more than once. But I'm going to go ahead and include it here just to get the thread started and for the newbies.
I have had two bad cold experiences outdoors. The first one was over 25 years ago, and had it not been for venturing into hammocks I could say that I never again had a BAD cold experience trying to sleep outside. I was on a 30 day NOLS trip in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. We had already been out for three weeks starting June 3. We had been blessed for the weather for all of those weeks, with very few cold nights around maybe freezing, but no significant precipitation. Now for about a week the main thing contributing to misery were the mosquitoes. Monstrous swarms of man eating mosquitoes. I went to bed that night in the middle section of our three-man tarp. One guy sleeping to my left, another guy planning on sleeping out under the stars. The mosquitoes made it sound like the Indy 500. Thank goodness for the head net. It was drizzling rain when I went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I had got over to the right side of the tarp, because my face was covered with nylon. I was wondering how I had rolled over my tarp mate after he came in when the drizzling rain started. It was also very quiet, no mosquitoes buzzing. (So far so good) I quickly realized that the weight of snow had forced the tarp down so that it was laying on top of me in the middle, as well as covering the guys on my right and left. I pushed it up and I heard the snow sliding off. I was a happy man – the mosquitoes were freezing to death out there! Starting the next morning we hiked a few hours in the blowing snow. Came to the East Fork River which was raging Whitewater from all the snow melt. Rigged up our Tyrolean traverse and crossed the river. During this river crossing, some people already started getting hypothermic (slurred speech etc.) waiting around for their turn. The snow was coming down pretty hard in the wind was blowing. We got them warmed up by breaking out the stoves and making hot chocolate while encouraging everybody to do side straddle hops(worked good!). Once everybody was across, we continued our hike until about sunset, made camp. Ate a hot supper. Went to bed. I was wearing every piece of clothing I had inside my sleeping bag (everything synthetic). Despite "waterproof" stuff sacks, everything was either damp or somewhat wet (damp clothing no doubt due to sweat and condensation inside non-breathable rain gear). I had a bag of sunflower seeds open at the side my sleeping bag, which I snacked on through the night, as well as doing situps and leg lifts periodically to try to generate body heat. I literally shivered all night. Worst part of the nightmare was: I had to pee 4 times during the night. Which means I had to get out of my sleeping bag and go outside the tarp about four different times (normally I would sleep through the whole night). The last couple of times my boots, even though I had them under my head/sleeping bag hood, had frozen solid. I could only get my foot about halfway into the boots in order to slog out into the one foot plus of snow on the ground.
My memory is dim on this last part, but I think as it got a couple of hours from dawn, I managed to quit shivering and even get some sleep. It may be that by this time my body heat had dried out all of my insulation. The recorded low that morning was 24°. This was the only night in the entire 30 days that I was cold enough to notice. I always blamed it at least partially on having an in inadequate bag. The NOLS instructors insisted that leave my -5 rated North face down bag behind. I rented a NOLS issue Slumberjack synthetic bag that weighed ~ 4 pounds, I believe it was Hollofil or Quallofil. It was probably originally rated for between zero and 10°. But after tons of use and stuffing by NOLS students, lots of washing etc. it had obviously lost a lot of its original thickness. My tarp mates did not seem to suffer as much as I did that night, and their bags looked significantly thicker to me, even though all were the same weight. Then again, considering we were three weeks into the wilderness and considering how damp or wet everything was by the end of that day, I was probably better off with the old beat up synthetic bag than with my down bag.
I guess considering all the experiences I've had, that was my most miserable single night camping in the woods. That was June 27, 1985. Roughly a week later, I believe it was on July 4, as I was driving across the plains headed for home near the foot of the mountains, not far from where I had the cold night, it was 103°. In a little while I will (again for the newbies – nothing new here to read for the old-timers at Hammock Forums) post about my second most miserable night. Which happen over 20 years later, and this time in a hammock.