March 17-18, 2011
My good friend Bill has a small (12 acres) chunk of land with a private camp site on it. Well, it usually is not a camp site. It's a large fire pit tucked away against the back corner of his property in the pines by a nice brook. Used for social gatherings, cookouts etc. I am the only one who camps here. There is a drive that leads to the area making it convenient to bring along the luxuries that I would never even think of bringing when I'm out in nature. Like a cooler, Dutch oven, real food to cook in it, beer, a guitar. This particular trip there was no need for a cooler due to the snow and it was too wet and cold to bring out my guitar.
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When I got to Bill's, first thing I noticed was that I wouldn't be able to drive up to the cozy niche. There was still 15 inches of snow; loose granular, so I used his home made pulk sled. Basically, a squared frame with half of a 50 gallon plastic drum all placed on an old pair of Rossignol skis. It worked great. I loaded up the sled with my gear, strapped on the Tubbs and headed up. The weather was in the low 50's and sunny. In a t-shirt, it felt great to feel the first rays of the year.
When I arrived at camp, the shade of the evergreens and being in a small valley didn't melt as much snow so I had to shovel some. I packed down most of the area with my snowshoes. I set up camp, started a fire, chilled the Smithwick's in the snow. I even set up my cheap Walmart one man tent. I paid $12 for this tent 3 years ago and in the right weather, it's perfect. I usually don't tent camp. This was the first trip that I have done in a tent with snow since my Boy Scout days. Bill was generous enough to let me use his cut & split firewood as needed but it was stacked by his house. I spent the rest of the afternoon lugging wood in his sled. This thing was a true help. By 4:00pm I was ready to start my corned beef & cabbage. It was St Patty's Day after all. It cooked in my Dutch oven in a bath of Irish ale.
The rest of the day and evening went great with Bill and his son came up to visit.We sat around the fire enjoying our ales, telling stories and having a good time. By 10:00pm dinner was ready. After a good feast, it was time for bed. As usual, when in the woods, I slept great.
When I woke it was 9:30ish or so. When I got up it was another gorgeous day. The chickadees were singing their "fee bee" song, the chipmunks were scurrying about and to my surprise I had a visitor in the night at some point; a whitetail deer had left his business with 15 feet of my tent.
Unfortunately, by 11:00am it was time to break camp. I took down my tent, rolled it up and packed it in the sled. When I turned around, I watched my groundcloth get picked up by a breeze and take a trip down the brook. Goodbye tarp.