Hoot, Hoot, Hoo-hOO, to- hoo… “Dad, that was awesome!” in hushed tone. The small group stands still, quiet, skis and poles steady, breaths held for one more Great Horned Owl hoot volley. Smiles and excitement show on chilly headlamped faces. Then an amateur owl reply chorus erupts of “HOOOT Hoo—too yooouu!” and giggles as kids imitate the owl call. Poles and skis get reorganized, pointed down the trail, and we continue our night-ski. A magical exchange on a darkening evening outing.
With winter in full swing, and a precious few daylight hours available, along with the crush of busy holiday schedules, it can be difficult to carve out time to get outdoors with the family. It’s even more difficult to get out on your own without ditching a zillion other things to do. It is possible, and certainly worthwhile to spend family time outdoors… even in the dark. Planning helps, so does snow, so do headlamps.
Winter Camping - Hot tenting makes winter camping so much more habitable. And our Campfire Tent makes a cozy winter habitat indeed! Yes, it’s extreme in a way, staying out in temps well below freezing, below zero, even more so. But with the right gear and skills, a little preparation, and some confidence gained through practice, winter camping can be a blast! Hot tenting is using a wood stove to heat a tent, dry your gear, and cook upon. Set up your shelter, get the stove going with the stovepipe out through a temp-resistant panel in the wall, and let the warming and drying begin! Most winter campers in hot tents will let the fire burn out at night and sleep cold with lofty arctic sleeping bags. Then re-light the fire in the stove in the morning.
Here in the north woods, we have it easy in a way. Cross country skiing is one of the best ways to travel in the woods. We have snow on the ground much of the winter, making areas ski-able that were hardly walkable in the summer. Plus, here in Duluth, there are a lot of lighted trails, great to get out for a quick jaunt after dinner. Most ski trails are well marked, many are one way, let the kids go on ahead and ski by yourself for a bit of solitude in the woods. “Meet me at the next intersection!” Our High Falls -Short Day Pack works great to stash some gear on an evening’s ski.
A Snowy Saunter - When was the last time you just strolled in the woods at night? With snowcover on the ground it makes starlight, moonlight, and any ambient light reflect around and allow you to nearly see where you’re going at night. Be patient and let eyes adjust and feel liberated from the flashlight for an adventurous night hike. A Grand Marais Mail Bag or Little Marais Messenger Bag will provide a spot to keep a light handy… just in case.
Give a kid some credit!
Youngsters are a bunch tougher than we think. They can often stay out longer, smile easier, and be up for more adventure than we give ‘em credit for. Get a kid their own go-to pack, our Book Pack is made just like a canoe pack, shrunk way down. Perfect for woodsy outing kid stuff. With some practice, a little assurance (chocolate bars help), some confidence, and a mindset for safety, a winter camping or wandering expedition into the wilds is totally within the realm of possibility for you and your crew. Get ready, get out, and enjoy some winter weather this season.