Crown Land Camping - Part 2

When we woke up, there were two things that immediately grabbed my attention. First there was frost everywhere. Second, those sticks that I had been moving around to make space for the tent? They were stinging nettle. Luckily, most of it was on its way to ground for the winter. Had it been summer, my hands would probably have been in for a world of hurt.

One of the even smaller ponds we found. 

Matthias was only a few steps behind me and we shot each other a smile. We had done it! Our first night in the cold, and it had been surprisingly painless. In fact, we had been quite comfortable! We cooked up some breakfast on the fire, then spent the rest of the day exploring the area and gathering wood. We were both used to camping in provincial parks and in campgrounds, where everything on the forest floor that could be used for firewood had long been claimed. Here, we didn't have to go further than twenty feet to find nice dry wood - there was plenty to last the weekend.

After lunch, we headed out for a longer walk, found a small lake and followed the shore for about half a kilometer. As we walked, there was a slight rustling sound that we had a hard time pinpointing. It was so faint, we couldn't tell if it was the wind in the trees or an animal. Since we had nothing better to do, we went to go check it out and were pleasantly surprised to find a little waterfall. We decided that we'd spend the next day making boats to race down river the next day.

The view from the door of our tent. 


We headed back to the campsite and chowed down on some fresh guacamole and chips. For dinner that night, we moved on to some dehydrated food. Surprisingly, Kung Fu Chicken by AlpineAire ($8.00), is pretty delicious. I'd give it a 7.5/10 and would definitely buy it again. But it doesn't hold a candle to their Texas BBQ Chicken ($7.25) which I'd give an 8.5/10. One of my experiments was eating a garlic mashed potato meal that expired in 2007. To my delight, it was fine. No sickness or stomach cramps either!

That night was spent around the campfire with more brews and more good times. But one thing that was became evident as we walked from fire to tent was that it was significantly colder than the night before. When I got back home and checked the weather history, I wasn't at all surprised to see that it had dipped to -13°C. At bedtime, we both spent about 10 minutes shivering in our double-bags, even with jackets and snowpants still on. Once we warmed up our bags, though, we were comfortable again. 

The venue for the boat race.  

We were pleased to note on our last day that there was not much to clean up. We burned what little garbage we had, and since we had no dishes to wash, it all took less than 30 minutes. We both commented that it was going to be very hard to justify paying money for a campsite or park for now on, when crown land is available for free and has with no crowds for miles. As well, camping in November had a very big bonus: zero mosquitoes or black flies.

It was definitely a learning experience, and luckily we didn't run into any trouble. We were (mostly) adequately prepared, and we were comforted to know that Matthias' cell phone had reception in case of an emergency. Also, before we left, I had sent out our coordinates and travel dates to a few of my friends as added insurance.

November crown-land camping: Success! Next on the list, winter yurt camping! 

The rules were, use any tool you want, but the boat can only consist of wood. 
The Duct tape flag was debatable, but Matthias gave me the thumbs up.

The pieces of gear that I used the most or found to be the most valuable for November camping:
  1. A layering system that allowed me to adjust from the 15°C warmth of the day, and -13°C at night. 
  2. A good hatchet and hand saw for maintaining a good stockpile of firewood. 
  3. My thermarest, for preventing the ground from sucking away all my body heat at night.
Bonus: Matthias' iPad for watching Preditor on the second night. "GET TO THE CHOPPA!"

Things I'd like to have for next time:
  1. An extra set of gloves. Not that anything happened, but I realized that if I had gotten my only pair wet (eg, had it been raining), I would have been up the proverbial creek until they dried out by the fire. 
  2. A sleeping bag rated for the winter temperatures. I would have rather carried one instead of two. 
  3. A lightweight reclining chair to put by the fire, but only if we camp close to the car.
  4. A folding shovel for burying poop so I don't have to steal my wife's garden spade next time hahaha. (editor's note: grrr! you better have cleaned it!)

6 comments:

  1. I dig these couple of posts you have on crown land camping. A buddy of mine and I are heading up to the 12 Mile Bay Rd. area in a couple weeks and hope to camp for the weekend. We will probably try a little more east than you guys, parking just off the road and hiking 1.5-2km in towards the Moon River. Good to see I'm not the only person who hates provincial park camping.

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  2. Glad you like the posts! I'm hoping to do a few more soon. I've just been super bogged down with work. If you are going to be in the area, definitely check out Moon River Falls. I have some pictures in one of my other posts. I imagine it'll be pretty empty at this time of year. Have a great trip! And share some pictures :)

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  3. If you're looking for a good winter sleeping bag on the cheap try Cabelas. I got the Kelty Cosmic Down 0F bag for $149us plus $18 shipping to KW. I tried it out at Bruce NP a couple of weeks ago and found it to be fine at -16C with a fleece liner. Best of all it compresses down to next to nothing. Bag, pillow, hat, spare gloves and fleece liner inside of a MEC 15L dry-comp sack. Also it evaporated condensation remarkably well which shocked me concidering how little I paid for it

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    1. Thanks Andy! Since last year Matthias and I actually bought the modular sleep system that the US military uses. It comes with three bags, a summer bag, winter bag and goretex bag. All three zip together and is supposedly good to -30°C or something like that. I've used it in -15°C and it's... not bad, but not great. A couple of my other buddies have had good luck with fleece liners, and I'd like to try that option out. Your experience with a 0°F bag plus a fleece liner is definitely encouraging. The one drawback of the MSS is that it doesn't pack down very much. Perhaps I'll try a fleece liner, my MEC 0°C down bag and the goretex bivy! Thanks for visiting my site!

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  4. That sounds awesome, I plan on doing a trip like this soon, I've only camped out in the cold a couple of times, but, I want to see what everybody has been saying about the crown land. I just wish there were places further south so it's not such a trip from Toronto! But, great posts!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! I hear you with the wish that there were a few places closer to the city. It is nice to be able to get away from it all though. And 90ish minutes to get to crown land isn't too bad when you consider what you get... for free!

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