I was up early to head over for the fresh coffee in the dining hall at 6 AM. Luckily I found other early risers that I really wanted to talk with- Linda Leckie, Don Kivelus, Bob Kimber, and Mike McClelland from Tennessee, who hosted Don and I when we were at Trail Days in Damascus in May of this year. I also enjoyed connecting with Vermont’s own Bad Influence, AKA Mark Shaw, my backpacking and winter camping buddy. The food here is the best, plus there’s always so many interesting folks to sit near and chat with. I am sure to check in with Bev and Joel Hollis, who always manage to get in a most remote and amazing unguided experience somewhere up either in the Northwest Territories or the Alaskan bush each summer.
After breakfast we had three presentations from veteran winter travelers that included Linda Leckie, Tony Morse, and Steve Young. The credentials these folks bring to Vermont is staggering, for example, Steve Young founded the Center for Northern Studies in Wolcott, Vermont back in 1971. Steve has worked in the Arctic and Antarctic for over 40 years, especially in western Alaska and eastern Siberia. His newest project is the creation of the Center for Circumpolar Studies.
One of the best things abo0ut attending Winter Walkers’ is the vendors, who arrange their wares all around the perimeter of the dining area. There are handmade items here that are available no where else. Here are a couple of shots of the bounty:
One of the favorite times of the weekend is the Tour of the Tents, this year emceed by Alan Brown. Over a dozen of the weekend participants chose to live in their heated wall tents for the weekend. The tour is a chance for the participants to hear the pros and cons of each of the tents, as the owners share their experiences with the group. Here’s a small tent that I’d love to add to my collection, but you are looking at over $1,000 of gear here, if you include the stove and stove pipe.
After lunch I attended two longer workshops. The first was “All You Ever Have to Know about Pitching a Wall Tent”, from Craig MacDonald. Craig has worked out doors for the past 44 years for the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources, and is probably the most experienced winter camper I know of. He talks, I listen.
Next was Don Kivelus, hailing from St. Francis Minnesota, illustrating his “Hammock Hanging at 30 Below” talk with the actual gear he uses in the boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. Don owns the Four Dog Stove Company. Here is on shot of his winter hammock and another is his vendor table.
Then it was back to the cabin for me, where I rested up before an excellent dinner. The evening’s activities included two half hour slideshows/talks.
The first was Bob Kimber’s “Backyard Snow trekking in the Maine North Woods”. Bob is a writer and explorer who has been published extensively in Audubon, Down East, Field and Stream , and Yankee magazines, and is the author of several popular books, including my favorite- A Canoeist’s Sketchbook. Bob claims I saved a 2008 winter trip when a case of beer froze. Bob posted a slide of me holding up a bottle of Yukon Jack in from of a winter camp that we shared several years ago. That trip can be accessed here: Big Bog. If you go to the site you can see real-life applications of what I have learned at Snow Walker’s.
Saturday evening concluded with a most interesting presentation by George Luste, “Reflections on my Winter Trips in the North”. The trips were to Labrador, and on Baffin and Ellesmere Islands.
It’s not only incredible that we have the ability to go to these far away places and walk around but it’s even more incredible that we live through some of these harsh experiences in order to tell these stories.