Updated: December 16, 2020 10:44 PM
Created: December 15, 2020 08:22 PM
Zero to twenty degrees. That's a prime temperature to settle in a snowy site for winter camping.
Melody David-McKnight, the UMD recreational sports outdoor program sea kayak coordinator, runs the cold weather excursions and often goes for fun. She said it's exciting and simple, if you're well prepared.
"I always bring two sleeping bags and two sleeping mats. Not the inflatable one, but the foam mat. That provides really good protection from the ground," said David-McKnight.
She added that the double layers "allow for a little bit of air space between the two mats which enhances insulation."
While winter camping it's important to stay dry, regulate your body temperature through layers, and know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. One way to stay warm is to set up a solid shelter. Melody's recommendations are to pitch a canvas tent, carve out a snow trench, or build a quinzee.
"Quinzee is where you mound up a bunch of snow and you let it sit for two to four hours so the ice crystals can form. You dig it out so that the base is 12 inches wide, tapering to eight inches, and six inches on top." One way this can be measured is by using a stick.
It's also necessary to consume enough calories. Around 3,700 to 4,500 calories per-person per-day is a good goal. Melody suggests packing a combination of fats, like salami, carbs, nuts, and dried fruits.
"They release sugars really fast. So if you're running out of steam, you're getting cold, you eat one of those [and] maybe 15 minutes later you're starting to feel better."
Always remember to check your systems before starting your trip, regardless of it's to the Boundary Waters or Duluth's Bagley Nature Center.
In the end, Melody said, the work is worth it.
"You can see shooting stars, you can see the aurora borealis [and] you'll probably be a little bit more likely to hear owl."
Some local areas to winter camp include Bagley Nature Center, Dwight's Point Campsite in Superior, Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center, as well as the Boundary Waters. Be sure to check their websites for hours, closures, or permit requirements.
As for gear, UMD offers no-contact rentals Monday through Friday from 1pm to 4pm at the Rec Sports Outdoor Program Rental Center.
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