March 15th Frontenac Trip

Where: Frontenac Provincial Park

When: March 15/16, 2020

Who: Perrin and I

Type of Trip: Short Overnight, Type 1 Fun, Gear Testing

By the Numbers:

  • Nights: 1
  • Campsite: 8
  • Kilometres Walked: ~23km according to my phone
  • One Way Hiking Time: 3 hours one way
  • Trail Conditions: The whole spectrum! Snow, ice, and mud.
  • Number of people seen on the trail: 0
  • Number deer spotted: 9
  • Number of chipmunks spotted: Innumerable
  • Nightly low: -10C
  • Sleeping Bag Rating: -7C
  • TPW: 17.8lbs

In More Words:

Just a quick one night trip to be outside! The weather was forecasted to be beautiful, so Perrin and I tossed some gear in the car and headed out. We were looking at highs of around 0C and an overnight low of -8C with nothing but sun. Perfect for my summer sleep set up to save some weight. Sei and Yak were not down for more winter camping.

Trip Route in Green

I decided to head up to Site 8 on Birch Lake. I figured it was far enough that nobody else would be there on a Sunday night, but only a 3-4 hour hike, so it could be done in my half-day hiking time frame.

The ice was just starting to break up at the shoreline
I love tiny pinecones! Yak had one in his boutonniere at our wedding.
Trail conditions varied. This snow and the dry trail were the best, followed by the ankle deep mud and boilerplate ice (which always appears on the steep hills!)

Trail conditions were mixed, dry, wet, snow covered, ankle deep mud, boilerplate ice. I did take traction devices with me, but the ice was never sustained enough for me to bother putting them on. Perrin doesn’t pull much on the downhills (unlike ‘freight train’ Sei!), so we managed. Spring is definitely arriving earlier than last year! We did a trip the last week of March 2019, and the trail was almost entirely snow/ice covered and the lakes were completely frozen all the way to the shore. This year they were mostly bare/muddy and the lakes were thawing around the edges.

Dinner! Mashed potatoes with cheese, butter, dried chicken and mixed veg, + bacon bits! Mmmmm

This was the coldest trip I’ve used the alcohol set up on, and it performed flawlessly. I kept the fuel in my coat hiking in, and it never hesitated starting up once I added it to the stove. I didn’t do any detailed measurements, but fuel efficiency wasn’t bad either. In the summer I can usually get 2 pots full of water boiled on one stove-fill. On this trip, I got about 1.5 boils: one full pot boiled, but I only needed half of it for my dinner, so I filled the pot the rest of the way to re-heat for tea. It was able to bring that second half-pot just barely to a boil before going out. Considering it was about -3C outside at that point and the water was literally ice cold (versus warmer summer water sources), it did better than I anticipated.

Drinking some tea and watching the sun set!
Camping is no excuse to be serious!
Camp all set up

The Starry Night tent had another successful outing, no issues with it. Night was c-c-c-cold! My thermometer said it was -10C overnight, which is a new lower limit for my -7C sleeping bag. I knew I was pushing it, so I took some hand warmers and put them in the too-long foot box with my puffy to try to keep my feet warm. That coupled with a foamie under my sleeping pad had me comfy-cozy all night. Very happy with the outcome of that after my limit-testing experiment in the back yard.

Sunrise over Birch Lake

The morning was cold but beautiful, and we had a quick and uneventful hike out. Perrin was so happy to be out on a trip with just me and him again. He is such a good adventure companion ❤

Puffin is pretty in morning sun!

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