So a couple weeks ago I got to spend three days back at my parents farm doing a winter survivalism trip. I have been wanting to do one of these for probably almost two years now, I have done a few in the spring and fall out at the national forests, but I just haven’t ever gotten to do one in the winter.
As per usual, I had a grand plan as to what I wanted to accomplish during this trip, I thought about exactly what order I needed to do everything in, etc. And as per usual, within hours of showing up, I pretty much knew my plans were going out the window! However, thats not all bad, if there is one thing I have learned from previous experiences doing my survivalism trips, that is to have a plan, but be flexible and just go with whatever comes along. In the end, I I got to spend three days having a great time with a few of my friends, we cooked several very good meals, and expended more calories working than any of us had done in a very long time I would guess.
So, shall I share what the plan was, then what we ended up doing? Good…
The plan was for my friends Paul & Jess to man the cabin at my parents to have a nice warm place in case Ben and myself wimped out with our survival shelters. I was going to build a firebed, and Ben was going to build an igloo. We were going to cook our meals in cast iron over the nice roaring fire I would have going while making my firebed.
The reality was lots and lots of snow, with pretty much no firewood at the cabin we were going to use as our base. Thus the entire first day was spent trying to get enough firewood to get us through the night. The snow was about knee deep and had a crust of ice on the top, so it was VERY difficult to walk through. We cut up all the downed branches and trees around the cabin to get us through the first night, then the second day we took my dad’s tobaggon and hauled back 4 fair sized logs to cut and split up for firewood for that day and into the next day. It took an amazing amount of effort from all of us to get enough firewood to just keep the cabin warm, not to mention my idea of doing a firebed.
We also ran into another snag while out there, we had planned on using electric from my solar system I have setup on my ham radio tower, we needed electric to run the fans on the fireplace in the cabin since it is pretty much impossible to heat the cabin without them. We hooked the cabin into the solar the first night, and by about 10pm, the solar had already run out of stored power (it has 2 deep cycle batteries). We ended up going back to my parents house and grabbing a deep cycle battery that Paul had brought and hooked it in, but it only lasted until about 2:30am. We found out by the next night that there is a short or something that is draining electric in the cabin, so we had much better luck the next night.
By the second day, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to build my firebed, we were barely able to get enough firewood for the cabin, there was no chance we were going to expend the effort to try and haul enough wood to make the firebed. This seems to be one of those projects that from my desk in Cleveland seems like a really cool idea, but in practice, I don’t see how it could be an effective means of a survival shelter. The amount of firewood you would need to make the bed of coals required you could build a bonfire beside an easy to make shelter and make it through the night. If I ever do attempt a firebed, it won’t be to try out a potential survival shelter, it will be just to say I did it.
However on the second day, we did get caught up on the firewood and Ben and I worked to make a Quinzee snow shelter, its kind of like an igloo, but much easier to make. It was actually a lot of fun to make, and was relatively easy to make. Also, once it was made and I crawled in, it was actually quite warm with just me in there. I had planned to try and stay in it that night, but in the process of making it, I got soaked to the skin and got chilled, and once I got into warm dry clothes in the cabin, I couldn’t talk myself into going back up and crawling into the snow to sleep, I know such a wimp!
So, the goal for the trip when I was heading out there was to make a firebed and spend the night in it. As it turned out, I never even attempted to make the firebed, and didn’t stay in any type of survival shelter. However, I cannot call the weekend a failure. We really did have a great time out there, it was good to spend so much time with my friends, and my parents farm is so beautiful in the winter. We made a couple of really fun meals (My breakfast hash browns and sausage, and Jess made a really good chili, plus tons of snacks and two bags of oranges). I also took my cross country skis and was able to get to the back of the farm to take some pictures.
And by the way, I know the above picture is REALLY blurry, however I had to include it. After we built the quinzee, there was just room for all four of us to get inside and sit. We took a couple of pictures, but it fogged up really quick inside of there. The first picture was less blurry, but we only got Ben’s ear, and seeing that he built half the quinzee, we really needed him in the picture!