Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Deep Freeze 2004 - Scouter Lake

As the paddling season of 2003 began to wind down in the fall months, thoughts again turned to the upcoming winter or "hard water" season. A few of the folks who had attended the winter gathering held north of Sudbury the previous February began to email amongst themselves and to post on the CCR forums regarding plans and ideas for another winter gathering/adventure. Most of the previous attendees quickly stated their intentions to attend along with considerable interest from new prospective "gatherers". It seems that there are many like minded folks who also inhabit the CCR forums that had heard about the last winter gathering and were looking for something new to try or people to just get out in the outdoors with.

As is usual with this type of activity, date and location ideas are put forward and discussed amongst the interested parties and eventually settled upon. The group from the previous year had decided upon an location north of Sudbury that required travel to the area on VIA Rail's "Budd Car". This unique passenger rail service runs on CP Railways mainline between Sudbury and White River, providing remote access for cottages. lodges, small communities and remote canoeing and fishing opportunities in many lakes and rivers such as the Spanish River. The train consists of 2 rail cars, one a passenger type car and one a baggage car. The propulsion is provided by engines underneath the cars and is operated by an engineer who can drive the train from a small cab on either end of the train. This unique service is 1 of only 2 left in Canada and is well worth the trip in it's own right. The train crews are both friendly and knowledgable about the myriad of lakes and rivers along it's route and if you have a location you wish to get off and begin a trip at, they will gladly help you get started in the proper spot and when you are finished you just need to let them know where you will be, flag down the train, load your gear and they repeat the process and get you back to your departure point again.
It was decided to again travel to the same area as last year but to walk further off the tracks along trails, lakes and creeks to the lake we had attempted to get to last year and set up there. The last week of February was also the designated time frame. The train travels north on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursdays, returning to Sudbury on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As interest in the trip grew over the fall period through the holidays, the numbers of possible attendees grew into the 30 - 40 range. As usual, folks planned to stay in all types of shelters from wood stove heated wall tents (hot tents), nylon dome style tents and various snow shelters (igloos and trench shelter) The final configuration turned out to be 8 hot tents, 4 dome tents, 2 igloos and a homemade sled/popup tent shelter and a total of 34 attendees.

As in the past people committed to the trip for varying periods of time. With the Budd Car schedule it is very easy to have an 8, 5 or 3 night stay depending on your departure/return dates. There was a group who liked the idea of a longer trip and we decided upon an 8 night trip (Sat through to the next Sunday). The rest of the group was split between Tue-Sun and Thu - Sun with 2 opting for Tue - Fri due to previous commitments. After this had been decided it was just a matter of folks making their arrangements to attend and decide on their length of stay. As with any trip, the numbers of folks committing to go tends to fluctuate as people try to secure time off from work etc. At the end of the day 6 people (Bill P, Georgi, Rick, Scouter Joe, Debbie and myself) did the 8 night trip. 2 people showed up on Tue for 3 nights (Dave and Peter, previous commitments) and 9 for 5 nights. (Moe, Theresa, Mike, Graham, Travis, Tony, Rockie, Lloyd, Ed and Nakina - Mike's husky). The rest of the gang appeared on Thu to bring the total to 34! (Richard, Al, Peter S, Cliff, Elke, Jean Luc, Jim and Ethan, Peter A., Dan, Joyce, Mark, Danette, Shawn, Kristy, Kevin, Yvon) Unfortunately there were several folks who had to withdraw for various reasons but I would expect to see them attend next years gathering if at all possible!

So what do folks do while out winter camping? Sleep, eat, hike, ice fish, socialize and visit! The following photos are a sample of the typical pastimes at this years winter soiree. Photos are a mix from various attendees and are credited by initials. The list of photographers follow.

Transport - We use the "Budd Car" train service from Sudbury to travel north of Sudbury to the area we camp in. The Budd Car is a 2 car train consisting of a passenger car and a baggage car. This is the most relaxed train service going - you can ride in the comfy seats or hang out in the baggage car and watch the scenery go by!

Budd Car in the snow
Budd in the sun!
Baggage car buds!
Coach car - Jim & Ethan
heading up the tracks
Spanish River
Once you arrive at the chosen drop off point, transport reverts to you and your snowshoes and you pull your gear on a sled.

Jim & Ethan's sled
Rockie's cabin sled!
heading up Trapper Lake
ski sleds

old fashioned toboggan
Give me Shelter - Hot tents, cold tents, igloos, quinzees, snowtrenches - folks have even slept under a tarp!

The hot hot tents pictured below are a mixture of commercial wall tents made of canvas (Joe & Graham's tents), owner built canvas wall tent (Moe), owner built nylon/canvas hybrid wall tent (Merlin) modified commercial nylon wall tent (Smokey), owner built nylon replica of an Explorer tent (Richard) and Cliff's canvas tourister tent renovation. All use small sheet metal wood stoves for cooking and warmth.
Smokey Lounge - hybrid nylon/canvas prospector tent 10'x12'

Scouter Joe's commercial prospector tent 10'x12'
Graham's commercial 8'x10' prospector tent
Moe's home built canvas prospecter 10'x12'
Merlin's home built nylon/canvas prospector 10'x12'
Richard's homebuilt nylon Explorer tent 10'x10'
Cliff's modified "tourister" tent
Some of our adventurers use regular nylon 3 or 4 season dome tents as well. If the truth be known the "hot" tents are just as cool in the morning as the stoves will not hold a fire through the night, however it only takes about 15-20 minutes of burntime in the morning to get a hot tent up to t-shirt temperature! One dome was hauled in and setup however it turned out to be the basement for the Munn mansion!

4 season dome
home sweet dome
lakeside living
Tony's camp
Richard's storage dome or "the basement"
Snow Shelters - Various snow shelters have been used to accommodate folks over the past few gatherings. This year 2 different models were constructed and used. One was a snow trench shelter that Tony used for a night to try it out and the others were igloos.

snow trench exterior

snow trench interior

pack used as door

Tony inside snow trench
The igloos were constructed with The Icebox® a tool used to build igloos in any type of snow conditions, in fact "Igloo Ed" Huesers the inventor of the The Icebox® attended the gathering and the owners of the devices got the construction low down, tips and tricks straight from the expert!

Ed building his igloo with the "Icebox"
Ed with help from Tony and Lloyd
Igloo and teepee
Kristy and Shawn with Ed's help build their igloo
Ed, Elke and Kristy
Kristy and Shawn - finished
Rockie's Camp - The most inventive habitat was Rockie's pop up tent sled. He combined his sled and accommodation in one. The sled contained all his gear and when he arrived on site it was emptied and a frame attached, a covering stretched over it and there you have it - a mini cabin!

unpacking the sled
mini cabin!
Camp Life - So, just what do you do when you're out there? Eat, sleep, cook, hike, fish, socialize, play cards, chores and maybe even have a wee dram! The faces and activities of Deep Freeze '04.


Photos are marked with the initials of the photographer. Many thanks to the following folks for allowing their photos to be used:
BP - B. Poort, RM - R. Munn, EG - E. Gruenwald, LB - Lloyd Bowles, AM - A. Marcon, MG - M. Graves, RP - R. Pargeter, TC - T. Cecce, JLB - J-L Berger

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