Well folks it’s Friday! Which means one thing. Our next instalment of the #wegetoutside2019 blog series brought to you by Revelry Outdoor Equipment Co. and Paddle In.
This time around we have Shaun of Antle Family Travels talking about their first hot tent experience. We all started somewhere right? I think it’s a testament to just how great our community is seeing all the info and gear shared to get these guys out on their first hot tent experience. ….. now for us to convince them to go on a canoe trip with us.
Making Memories ~ Leaving Footprints
Our family of four’s search for the next crazy and wild experience!
Winter Camping in a Hot Tent
Mew Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park
Feb 15-18, 2019
As a family of four, we’ve travelled the world in many ways, with the objective being: making memories and leaving footprints. It’s cliché we know, however, it’s also very true. I, my wife Tara and our two kids, Ethan and Callie (7 and 4 years of age) decided that this winter we would give it a go and try winter camping. So far, we’ve experienced (whether just I and my son or all four of us) camping in a cabin, yurt, cold tent and now a hot tent.
A few months ago, we booked a site for the Winter in the Wild Festival at Mew Lake, Algonquin and began preparing (much to Tara’s dismay lol). My son and I did a couple cold tent trips to the, you guessed it, back yard. We got an idea of things and then set our eyes on a hot tent experience with Tara and Callie.
Fast forward to the week of Feb 11th and the packing and anticipation began growing. Ironically though, as I’m sure some may attest to, we procrastinated and ended up trying to pack everything on the Wednesday and Thursday (as we’d planned to leave Thursday evening). Well, we didn’t. We didn’t even leave by 6am Friday, even though our alarms had told us to. We left at 8:15am… BUT, the beauty of it was, we had a destination ahead. For us, it’s the journey that is a big reason for our travels. Seeing the world as we go. We agreed that Tara and the kids would dictate the aspects of the trip, as I didn’t need to warm up (no pun intended lol) to the idea of it all. However, they needed to be able to enjoy it and I didn’t want to push any sort of agenda on them.
We arrived 7 hours later at Mew Lake and that was after battling a whiteout from Barrie, ON all the way to Algonquin. We had decided to overpack and bring everything we could (for obvious reasons as stated above, to ensure Callie and Tara had an enjoyable trip) so between our truck and U-Haul trailer, we did so. Now, some may see that as crazy, however, if I had any shot of Tara and Callie enjoying this, I cared less about whether or not we looked crazy (we soon found out, we were part of the majority in bringing trailers) and more about ensuring their comfort for the duration of the trip.
After settling in, getting the Snow Trekker set up (what a tent to start with I might add – when we buy it will most likely be one of them), we began having fun in the snow. We checked out the infamous Mew Lake Ice rink and the superbly set up warming stating and community fire. We were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the beauty of the immense snow that had fallen the week before and that day. It was surreal and a life long dream to be in the middle of what most winter postcards from all over the world look like, but you always think, “yeah right, that doesn’t exist – it’s to perfect…” Well it does and it was!
Words can NOT express the feeling of standing in the “airfield” (a certain location in the park that I believe was once used as just that, an airfield, and now is overgrown with trees) either during the day and seeing the gorgeous views of a true winter wonderland or by the light of the moon showcasing the crystals of snow… It was stunning!
Over the four days we were there, we hiked to Mew falls, into a portion of the Highland Trail (just to purely say we hiked the Highland Trail lol) and enjoyed ice skating, built a snow resort (which we believe was epic and so did a lot of others – it consisted of a lounger with drink holders, a sizeable curved wind breaking wall and two footstools along with a couple quinzhee style dug outs) and meeting and hanging out with new friends.
We enjoyed taking pictures of the Pine Martins (of which we’d never seen or heard of before) along with the many birds hanging around. We also enjoyed playing some good ole fashioned Crockinole (true Canadiana right there) and just walking around the park, seeing the many different winter camping set ups. We spent a lot of time with the Lebel’s (Andre and Carole) who were absolutely some of the friendliest and kindest people we have ever met!
Tara summed it up on the Winter Camping Enthusiast Facebook Group with these few lessons learned from her perspective:
Things I learned while winter camping….
1) Winter camping is hard work. Every (usually simple) activity is harder while camping. Getting dressed, cleaning up, cooking/eating, going to the bathroom (especially with a 4-yr. old girl in snow pants!), sleeping, and especially getting up and out of bed in the morning.
2) Winter campers are very kind, generous people. We had thought we might need more wood for the last night, and then suddenly, we had more than we needed because people gave us their leftovers without even knowing we needed it. We had people checking on us daily as they knew we were new, and they were always willing to help or offer advice if we needed it. Winter campers are also very tough people… Not everyone is willing to put themselves through that kind of environment.
3) Winter camping fashion is like a whole other level of fashion. It’s amazing what people wear to stay warm and how it really doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you’re warm.
4) Cold feet can cause epic meltdowns. Poor Callie is all I have to say about that one (oh and Bogs are great boots for southern Ontario – not Algonquin in February)
5) A quiet, crisp nighttime walk with only the moon as your light can be very peaceful… Even if it’s frustrating to walk in the cold, just to go pee.
6) Ontario is beautiful. 3+ feet of snow didn’t mask its beauty, it only made it something else!
7) Winter camping is incredibly exhausting. See point #1 for why.
All in all, it was a great weekend… I’m glad I went, even though I’m not in love with it the way Shaun is. I can handle it… But maybe only in spurts 😉
So, as you can see, over all, the experience was amazing. My son and I are hooked; Tara and Callie, well, they make take some more time. Regardless, as a family, we can all say that we’ve Winter Camped and that we owned it!
For us, the memories, the experience and the lasting impression we hope it leaves on our children, makes it worth it all! We are excited to continue our journey into the Great Outdoors and I’m so glad it wasn’t a flop. Although two of us are in and 2 of us are not quite in, Winter Camping is in our future for sure. Whether in a tent (cold or hot), yurt, cabin, rv or any other possible way, I know we, as a family, will be out there soon enough (heck, we will be at the Pinery in a yurt in 2 weeks 😉 )
For those considering the crazy notion to winter camp; outside of the many different opinions and advice you WILL receive, if you remember anything, remember this: Just get out there. Do your research, ask questions and share your journey – it’s absolutely worth every second of it.
Happy Camping and we hope to see you out there!
The Antle Family
Don’t Just Go Outside …… Revel In It
#flashlight #headlamp #outdoorstore #edc #outdoorlife #outdoorgear #shoplocal #ontario #canada #Armytek #getoutside #exploreontario #outdoorbloggers #explorecanada #camping #backcountry #campvibes #wildernessculture #beprepared #knife #knives #fishing #cuda #camillus #dmt #armytek