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Winter Camping in the Catskills


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Home Forums Campfire Member Trip Reports Winter Camping in the Catskills

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  • #3771394
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Finally saw a favorable forcast with cold temperatures, wind and snow/ice accumulations for the Catskills. Decided to head up on Sunday morning before the storm hit.. hike in a couple of miles and climb up to a spot I have hiked past before.. slabs of granite with excellent views, an exposed area that was sure to get hit with the snow and wind, but would promise to have beautiful views on a sunny Tuesday morning after the snow passed and covered the Catskills in fresh white powder. It would also have been a great snow shoe down the mountain breaking trail all the way. A friend had decided to join me, no stranger to winter camping.. off we went. It turns out he did not bring a 4 season tent and as we climbed up to the “spot” his first words were.. “oh snap, it looks like the tundra up here”. Totally exposed slabs of granite covered in ice and white powder, with minimal small shrubs scattered around, covered in layers of thick ice. I knew right then and there we would NOT be camping up here, as the wind was howling from all directions. We did scout the area, but decided we would hike back down just below where we were, as we did pass thru a beautiful pine forest before we went up, and I made note as we passed it, if we cant find a suitable spot at the top, we can come back down here and camp in the pines. So we did.. we ended up finding a nice spot to camp off trail deep in the pine forest. There was plenty of cover and protection from the elements. I even wondered if we would get any snow accumulations tucked under those tall thick pines, lol. We made camp and sure enough it did start to snow. Thankfully I carried my MSR hammer because everything was frozen solid and there was no way to get any stakes into the ice, or even get a rock. Just frozen solid, so that hammer made quick work, especially for his trekking pole tent he was using, as my BD Highlight 2 was free standing, but i did use my guy lines in case the wind did hit. Overnight it did snow and get windy with some nice gusts.. but you could hear the constant blowing of fierce winds above us at the top of mountain all night long! There was no chance his tent would have made it through that, so we made the right decision. My only mistake was not pitching the vestibule on the Highlight as i planned to keep the massive side door open, at least half way, with the mesh screen closed throughout the night. When we set up camp in the pines, I actually said “if i knew we were camping in here, I would have brought just my tarp and bivy”. Well by the next morning, I was happy i brought the tent because it was windy all night and it did snow and sleet about 5 inches and temperatures dipped to low 20°F.. My luck.. the wind was whipping the snow directly into the entrance of my tent, so I had to keep the door 3/4 closed with the screen fully zipped. Every time i got in and out.. the snow blew inside. That was fine, i had my 15° synthetic quilt inside my eVent bivy in the tent, so i was ok with some snow in there.. heck it is winter camping in a snow storm and I usually use a tarp and bivy anyway, so im used to this. So I woke up in the morning and the space between the 3/4 door closed and the mesh down to floor was completely filled with snow! Ughh.. this could get messy so I had to carefully open the mesh and then the door and force the snow out and not in! It worked out ok.. but it was still breezy and snowing, so I decided to attach the vestibule. What a difference that makes. So much more room and no more snow blowing in upon entry and exit. The only downside of using the vestibule, well 2 downsides is my massive view was taken away, which did not matter this point with the wind and snow blowing that direction, and getting in and out through the vestibule door was smaller and needed me to really crouch to my knees and crawl in and out, and there happened to be a tree right there near the entrance! Whatever.. it worked and it made such a pleasant experience to be inside the tent for the next day and a half. Unfortunately there was not enough snow accumulations to snow shoe out, with all the big rocks still exposed in the trail and just not enough snow.. we hiked out breaking trail without them, ughh.. well not without them as we did have to carry them on our backs, again! All in all it was a fun trip and first tatse of snow for this season. Hopefully next time the weather takes a turn for the worse and I get to put that tent to the test! Overall I have to say, it did well for those minor conditions. Inside I could barely tell it was windy at all, it kept me safe from wind and dry and comfortable for 2 nights. There was frost in the inside walls, which i believe is unavoidable in those conditions in a single wall “bivy” style tent, and I expect that to happen so I am prepared for it and deal with it.. embrace the frost! It pitches easy, abeit sort of a pain..but really its easy if you take the time and have a plan. I will say it breaks down so simple and fast which i really loved in the morning @ 20°F with some breeze. If i was spending more then 2 or 3 days, I would prefer more room so I am considering the 3P version. I used my Windburner stove and i brought the larger 1.8 liter pot anticipating melting snow and ice for water, but since we were camping at the lower elevation we found a small steam and was able to get slush from that.. with snow. The Windburner is flawless as always for me, but in reality I could have gotten away with the smaller 1L pot for it. I do show it in the video for anyone interested.. It was a great time, as always, it fun to be out there no matter the weather as long as you are prepared for it..

     

    YouTube video

    #3771418
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    #3771440
    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member

    @iago

    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    Nice stove stand :)

    Thank you for taking the time to make the video report.

    #3771442
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Awesome right? Thanks @Ryan Jordan for that simple yet so affective idea. Dual purpose too, as seen in video.. I keep my candle on it while burning.

    #3771443
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Also, above.. The 6 picture down..

    #3771450
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I like the soft glow from a trad candle lantern. Not gas, not LED, but candle.
    Cheers

    #3771454
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Yup.. legit candle glow.. soothing

    #3771645
    Hopearotie
    BPL Member

    @hopearotieyahoo-com

    Thanks for taking the time to share you video and insights.

     

    Hope W

    #3771648
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    @Hopearotie.. You are most welcome!

    #3771679
    Chris K
    BPL Member

    @cmkannen-2-2

    Thanks dirtbag, glad you had a good trip! Can you share more about the candle? I mean I know how candles work, and know they output heat, but what kind do you bring, and is the 1/4 of exposed mesh windows in your tent enough to vent?

    #3771686
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    @Chris K the candle is a coghlans 36 hour emergency candle. I love it! Definitely recommend it 100%. The 1/4 exposed mesh was ok to vent. Unless the door was half open and back window half/ possibly full open.. In those temperatures in the Northeast.. You are gonna get condensation. It actually just frosted the inner walls, so no drips or water or anything like that. Occasionally some “snow” would fall inside the tent if I initiated it.. But not even the wind would cause it, so not a problem.

    #3771690
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Years ago REI sold a ~1 ounce fully enclosed candle holder. I used it for a season in summer and spring, outdoors, attached to a stick or a hiking pole…I forget which. It provided the kind of soft glow that one likes while sitting around at night. I’d use it when the weather was warm enough that I didn’t need a fire. The candle didn’t emit the smoke that a fire does: good!  More, it wasn’t so bright that my eyes needed ten minutes or more when looking away to have the night sky emerge when the eyes adjust. Somehow the candle holder disappeared and I never sought out another. Who knows why?

    A candle in a tent does provide warmth, but they’re finicky and easy to upset and spill wax.

    Nice report on your trip! Good to see that your tent held up over two nights, and very well from the looks of your pictures. Yeah, in winter, bring the tent for sure!

    #3771691
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Thanks! Well it better have held up on those conditions!! Lol. It was only low of 20°F, with 5 inches of snow and some mild wind, with some decent gusts.. and we were burried deep in the pines! I do plan on trying the 3P Hilight as I did really like everything about the 2P.. but that 82 inches length was just enough room to be snug, where the 3P goes to 86 and adds a little more width and height.. which I think would be really comfortable for extended time in there. The vestibule is a sweet extension too.. I really was happy after I put that on. The other thing enticing about the 3p is that both sides open up completely.. no wind/snow blowing and it will be nice to have wide open sides like that!

    #3771699
    Jon Solomon
    BPL Member

    @areality

    Locale: Lyon/Taipei

    Brings back memories of solo winter hiking in the Catskills…17 years ago. Used a BD Lighthouse, the original version made in EPIC. Didn’t see another living creature over five days. Your landscape photos capture the soft colors and winter silence well.

    #3771733
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Thankyou! Winter is a special time of year to be out there.. no doubt!0

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