Strap on some snowshoes, throw on a 50 pound backpack, load up a sled with supplies, then drag it across a frozen lake, down a skidoo trail and through the bush until you find a nice piece of snow to lay down on for the night. This is winter camping, and until last week I had no idea it would be one of my favourite experiences so far.
To be fair, apart from the snow on the ground, I would hardly call our trip winter camping. Not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind and plus temperatures for the entire trip. We winter camped all right, but it felt more like spring.
Due to our lack of experience winter camping, my friend Ty and I tracked down an outdoor expert to come along and show us the ropes. His name is Joe Milligan and to call him an outdoorsman is an understatement. Not only does Joe have decades of experience hiking, camping, climbing, canoeing and kayaking, he and his wife teach a University class on outdoor survival - it’s safe to say we were in good hands.
Joe guided us through Moose Mountain Provincial Park, a place he’s been visiting since the 70’s, showed us how to set up a winter camp, start a fire on top of snow, and explained strategies on staying warm. He taught us how to use a signal mirror, cook bannock over the fire, and make snow taffy for dessert. His knowledge, experience and adventure tales are something I will not soon forget.