Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Camping: Clarendon Shelter,Long Trail, Vt

December 15-16,2010

This was the first overnight trip of the 2010-2011 winter season. A solo adventure.

I had planned this trip a week ahead with intentions of backpacking north about a mile and a half to Gov. Clement shelter but en route, with the newly fallen snow, I could not make it down Upper Cold River rd to where the trail crosses so a last minute change of plans was needed. I took the Lower Cold River rd to the trail crossing and went south. I could not go north due to a river crossing and with recent rainfall the river was quite swollen and crossing it would have been too southbound it was.
I entered the trail at Cold River Rd and instantly I was in heaven. Six inches of fresh snow had fallen, the air was crisp at fifteen degrees and not one footprint was on the trail. The hike in was gorgeous; a moderate, short three miles on a pristine trail ( did some maintenance on this section a few weeks prior ) and after an hour and a half I arrived at Clarendon shelter. When I arrived, I ate a quick lunch and then collected firewood for the evening. Luckily, there had been high winds a few weeks before so a lot of "blow-downs" were in the area. I had an endless supply of dry seasoned firewood. How convenient.
The fire ring was covered in snow and when I went to clean it out I noticed a piece of sheet metal so all I had to do was lift it and viola, my fire pit was ready to go.
I spent the rest of the day setting up camp, sawing wood etc. Once night fell, snow flurries started to fall adding to the ambiance of the winter night. Quite tranquil to say the least. The fire was warm but the air was cold making my water filter freeze up so unfiltered water it was. I had to keep my water bottles on the edge of the fire ring to keep them from freezing up. By eight pm the temps had dropped to five degrees with a light breeze; a hot meal was needed. I cooked dinner; fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, a good calorie boost. After dinner I sat by the fire until nine thirty and crawled into my sleeping bag. Slept like a baby waking once at five thirty am due to nature. I went back to sleep until eight thirty. When I woke up it was cold; three degrees, pushing the limits of my zero degree sleeping bag. I fired up my stove, had coffee and oatmeal with sausage while still cocooned in my bag. Once finished I started to break camp doing jumping jacks to help get the blood moving and stay warm. Once all packed up, I cleaned out the fire pit and covered it with the metal, swept the snow out of the shelter and policed the area for any debris. I left this shelter as I found it with the exception of extra fire wood pre-cut and ready to go for the next person. At nine forty five I strapped on my backpack and continued southbound on the trail for one mile to Rt 103 where my ride was waiting.

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