This year, we decided to try something different, something we’ve always wanted to try – winter camping! So, we payed for our winter site at Valens Conservation Area and signed up for the program. We have camping friends who do the same winter program every year at Valens, so we knew we wouldn’t be alone! We picked out a beautiful campsite #46 in the Ironwood loop. It was well treed with lots of tall evergreens and a forest on the slide out side of our trailer. It was important to me to have a good view from the windows. Crazy person that I was, I wanted to see the snow falling from inside our warm trailer!
We arrived at our campsite, which would be ours until the end of April on January 2nd. We settled the trailer in and got set up with our winter camping gear. To make sure we were warm enough on the coldest of days and nights, we brought two electric heaters. We ran two 15 amp extension cables from the post outside through the slide out seals into the trailer. We also had our fireplace and our furnace to keep us warm. It was decided that during the coldest months, we’d only use our toilet facilities and bring bottled water to use for cooking, drinking and washing dishes. The comfort station at the park was open for showers with the water on. As well, there was a laundry room to refill our fresh water jugs. I’ll post photos from each weekend at Valens below:
JANUARY WINTER CAMPING
We were away a total of three weekends in January. The first weekend was when we brought our trailer to the site, backed it in and got it set up for the first weekend of winter camping. The weather was nice. It wasn’t too cold and there was only a light dusting of snow on the ground. We started our winter woodpile and hooked up our cell signal booster in hopes of getting better cell reception. It didn’t work. We took some time to hike around Valens and enjoy the winter scenery.
FEBRUARY WINTER CAMPING
February was the coldest month of winter and the one weekend that we camped, it was the coldest of the month! Geez, we planned that well! Needless to say, we didn’t use our fresh water system at all. We did however use our own toilet and black water tank. This particular weekend was a tough one. I arrive on a Wednesday night and spent a part of my holidays at camp while Dave commuted to the park from work. Early in the week it was warm, but by Friday there were all kinds of cold weather warnings in effect. Our slide outs built up quite the ice dam which resulted in me thawing out the seals with a hair dryer and a ladder. As well, our fridge was just too cold and the freezer began to thaw food. We also ran out of propane one morning and woke up to a very cold trailer. Then, on the Sunday morning our propane tank froze and again we woke up to a cold trailer! As I said, it was a tough weekend and one that made me not so sure about February camping again! Everything worked out okay in the end with no damage to the trailer and we enjoyed many campfires some hiking and some ice fishing too! Here are some photos:
MARCH WINTER CAMPING:
We were out twice in March camping. The first trip out the weather moderated quite a bit and we were able to dewinterize and use our fresh water system. The snow was melting considerably and the it was actually pleasant! The second weekend, which was the last of March saw a return to colder weather. We tried using our fresh water system, but it froze at the input valve in the tank. So, it was back to bottled water and campground showers! No issues to speak of, the tank thawed and we were able to use our water system when we returned in April. Here are some photos from March:
APRIL WINTER CAMPING:
Originally we had intended on finishing our winter camping season at the end of April, but decided the first trip out in April to end it then. We had used up our allotted nights by the end of that weekend and would have had to pay for our last weekend in April. We decided we would rather pay to camp somewhere else. It had been a good winter season and certainly no reflection on Valens, we’d just had enough of that park for the winter. So, our weekend in April was a good one! The weather was glorious and it was a great way to end our winter camping season. It was actually light jacket and T-shirt weather. Of course, we were able to enjoy using our fresh water system which is always a super bonus! So here are some photos of our last weekend camping in April!
And so ended our winter camping adventures!!! So, I suppose the big question is would us CRAZY people do this again? Well, we would camp in the off months again weather depending. Maybe we’d camp in January, March and April, but I’m not so sure about February!! I’m not so sure we’ll do the Valens Winter Camping Program again. The reason being, we had to pretty much be there every other weekend (when I’m not working) to make the minimum number of nights out. It would be an expensive program for us if we didn’t. In all honestly, if February 2016 is anything like this past February, I could do without camping that month!
It was a wonderful experience for the solitude and quiet winter beauty that we enjoyed. We’d be further ahead next year to just take the trailer out in the off season depending upon the snow and access out of our driveway whenever we want to winter camp.
Winter camping was most definitely an experience that we enjoyed and would do again. Just not necessarily the winter program at Valens.
HAPPY WINTER CAMPING – BRRRR!!!!