Articles / Winter Trek -2014
Category: Camps, Treks & Adventures
After a year of family related laid back approach to my love for historic frontier living; this was the adventure I for one was looking forward to with great anticipation. The weather broadcast (very important when it comes to winter treks in Sweden) was looking very promising. Cold weather and snow was promised. The cold came but only a tiny inch of snow had the courtesy to fall.
As time closed in our invited mountaineer guest Jens had to back out because of work, a few days later Mike calls in sick, and at about the same time Johanna does the same. And so the five participants were down to two. Although the lack of snow was a fact, we decided to go through with it as there probably wouldn’t be a second opportunity this season.
Friday morning we started to pack our toboggans, jumped into our historic suites and left Chars homestead for three days and two nights under the stars. I (Char) had planned the route, and after less than an hour on the trail we realizes I had been a bit too enthusiastic as to how far a heavy toboggan could be pulled on such a thin sheet of white powder. At about three in the afternoon, and still a few more hours to the camp site I had intended, the time of day forced us to unload and start making camp for the night. A spot protected by a cluster of spruces was selected and we started collecting spruce boughs, fire wood and water. For shelter we used my wedge tent which we tilted onto its side and hence got a lean to facing the fire. We also made a reflector of logs intended as fire food. Soon a pitch pine fire was blazing and our bedding rolled out in our shelter. A traditional SMM stew of venison, rice and a sprinkle of pepper sauce was boiling just in time for darkness.
David woke up early as usual and to my comfort got the fire going and was frying a few slices of salted pork as I opened my eyes. Stew leftovers and a few cups of warm creek water got us both warm and ready for another day of heavy pulling.
The terrain was pretty tough and our loads soon made it evident that we would have to reroute or else this intended three day adventure would last a week. After a few hours through the woods we finally hit an old trail. Here the snow was at least a bit deeper than in the dense forest we had just passed.
We made a short noon break for some water and pemmican and looked at the map for guidance. We followed the trail a few hours and reached our designated camp spot by a small lake (Djupegöl) with an hour or two left before dark. Both David and I were now fatigued and our brains didn’t work quite as rational as we are used to. But we still managed to chop our way through the lake ice for water, collect spruce boughs and the firewood needed. Once again the fire was blazing, our pipes were lit and our brains could once more function at an acceptable rate. Another stew of rice, meat and some additional pemmican filled our guts and we hit the robes pretty early.
The intended schedule for this day had two important happenings. The first one was to walk to a clearing close by where we had permission to make use of our flintlocks from the land owner. A lead filled spruce log later, the happening left for the day was finding our way back to civilization. The trail remaining was fairly easy and we found ourselves back at my place by noon. A sturdy lunch and a shower was all that remained and the 2014 SMM winter trek was to an end!
Things learned (Do’s)
•Have I ever mentioned the benefits of wool? Yes, plenty of times. But it’s worth mentioning over and over again. Wools capability to insulate although wet is extremely important during winter outings.
•Bring only what you need. Every extra pound is an extra pound to carry or pull. By this I don’t suggest a one blanket trek in January, just that you should think your gear through and perhaps leave the “fun stuff” back home.
•Make enough food in the evening to serve as breakfast the morning after. This saves time and creates a well needed energy boost before hitting the trail once more.
Things learned (Don’ts)
•First of all, don’t underestimate the weight of a fully loaded toboggan when planning your route, especially when the depth of snow is just enough to get it moving. Rather get extra hours in camp than extra hours pulling.
•If possible choose the time or place that actually has enough snow. This time we were all eager to discover the area around my (Char’s) place even though it only had an inch of snow, while David’s home was resting under a foot of it. Snow is more important than new scenery if you want to make use of your snowshoes and get your toboggan moving. D’ho!
•I think we were a bit enthusiastic thinking we would be able to haul the gear of five persons on two toboggans. Earlier years we have done just fine with two toboggans for three people, but add another person’s gear and the task would probably become a nightmare. The conclusion is; every person pulls his own load.