Friday, February 1, 2008

Doug Goes Snow Camping

I had to try it. We Metzgars love camping, but doing it in the snow hasn't been done -- yet. We've been snowcurious, but with young kids, anything overnight might be miserable for them.

Thanks to my friend Bryan Oakes, a regular winter camper, I asked to join him on a winter camping trip. By coincidence, a local usergroup posted a snowshoe/winter camping trip for beginners. I was all over it. The plan: We'd snowshoe out on a mellow fire road to a campsite, set up camp, eat, hang out and then snowshoe back to the car the next day.

Things didn't quite happen as planned. We set off on a decent ascent (after I discovered what happens when you fall down in snow that's 3-4 feet deep -- thankfully, your face stops you) but soon found ourselves on top of a ridge with no trail in sight. We pushed on in the general direction of our GPS coordinates, hiking up and down several canyons (yes, sliding on my ass became an option at some points) before connecting with a forest service road. Leaving the navigation up to the group leaders, I assumed we were on the right (and per the map outlining the trip, the level path we should have been on). But fear not, we couldn't resist another draw -- heading straight down to the river where our campsite lay.

I imagined taking photos of that part of the journey, but was a little tired, covered with lots of snow, and reluctant to lose my camera down some canyon drop-off.

However, we made it to camp safety, albeit tired. Had a good time digging in for the night, getting to know the guys and swapping tips and tricks (I should have had a notebook for all of that information).

The next morning, we ate breakfast and just as we started to tear down, the wind and snow began to kick in. We hiked the remainder of the way on a decent trail, even though it was uphill until the parking lot;- ) The snow blew into our faces a lot. We were wet under our raingear, but kept up our core temperatures by hiking hard, eating and drinking lots of water.

Got back to the parking lot. Tossed off all the wet gear and warmed up in the car with more water and M&Ms. The rest of the group soon followed and we got everyone packed up and on our way to Idaho City for some chocolate malts and burgers.

Good times. Cold, wet, but fun as heck. I'm doing it again.

During the hike back and making the pace (you know, you get into a groove of the sound of your snowshoes shushing at a particular rhythm) and I thought about my girls. Would they like something like this? Nope -- Not wind and snow in your face. Maybe an easy hike and camp in the snow? Nope -- I imagined Rebecca, the one who likes to stay warm, crying 15 minutes into the hike, then crying all day in the tent, trying to get warm. Then I realized that a snowshoeing adventure would just have to be an hour-long hike (or less) around the snow, then home for hot chocolate. That's OK. I'll settle for that until they're a little older.

Here are some photos for your perusal:
Crooked River (My Shots)
Crooked River (Owen's Shots)
Crooked River (Steve's Shots)

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