1st Jan, 2009

Michigan UP Camping – Part 1

Well, I am back and alive! The trip was great, but I have too many photos to put all here in one post. So, I am going to break the trip up into pieces over the next few days.

During the long holiday break, I was able to get up to Michigan’s UP for some deeper snow camping. This was a trip just for the big boys. Normally I take the kiddies, and the whole family along, but I did not think they would be able to handle the cold and the snow.

The plan was to basecamp in my Tentipi and to spend the days snowshoeing around.

We decided to stay in the Tahquamenon Falls area. There is a mostly primitive campground near the lower falls.There are two loops to campground, but only one is plowed. I normally would like to stay in a more primitive area than a “campground” but as you will soon see by the pictures, it was pretty deserted :D

I had no idea what this “campground” would be like, so we packed out gear in two stages. One “backpacking ready” with our normal multi-day packs and one-sled in tow. Then, larger “car camping” gear in case we were close enough to get it to the campsite with the sled.

We arrived around 5pm and the temperature was about 28 deg F. We were losing light, so I did not take any pictures of actually “setting up” but rather took these the day after.

Upon arrival, we snowshoed around the non-plowed area of the campground to select a spot. The snow was deep enough that snowshoes were pretty much required.

After selecting a campsite, we had to tamp down the area for the tipi with our snowshoes.

I have posted here about my Tentipi before. I have used it in warm and somewhat cold weather, but this was my first time using it in deep snow. I absolutely love the thing because it allows an open fire, the use of a wood stove, provides great fresh air ventilation and setup is super easy. The only drawback to it (if you consider it a drawback) is that you need to anchor it securely to the ground (ie. sand would not work). That required me to come up with a method to anchor it in the snow, since traditional stakes would not work.

So, I made snow anchors out of an old blue tarp. I put grommets in each corner and tied cord on to make a parachute. Here are the tarp pieces I used.

It was dark when we buried the anchors, so I took this picture as we were un-burying them. But, you get the idea.

Next, we let the anchors settle for about an hour. During that time we collected lots of firewood (more on firemaking later) and packed down trails (such as to the latrine) so that we could walk around in normal boots, and not have to put on snowshoes for the midnight trips to the bathroom. Here is the latrine trail.

Next, we finished setting up the tipi, and unrolled all the bedding material. Here is a picture of the tipi and camp.

Here is a picture of how deserted the campground was. Notice all the picnic tables.

Finally, while I cooked dinner, one of my camp buddies dug two separate refrigerators. One for the food and one for the water. Besides having good luck with the water, I am happy to report that none of our food froze, including sour cream, salsa, juice and some other stuff (yes….we ate well). Here is the water fridge (only half full).

I have camped in the winter before using Nalgene’s like this. I took along my 40oz Kleen Kanteen mostly to learn what it could do. I am happy to report that it survived every night in the refrigerator without freezing. There was mild freeze up on the camp, which is typical because the thin layer of water that always seems present.

One lesson I did learn there is to make sure and take the loop cap (instead of the flat camp) to break the ice crust free. The Kleen actually seemed to have less freeze up issues than the nalgene’s. Don’t know if the was just coincidence or what.

To Be Continued……In Part 2

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[...] Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. [...]

[...] find it flattering that WinterCampers.com took interest in my Winter Camping in the UP articles that I wrote, and posted them in their blog section, found here. While I love winter [...]

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