View Full Version : Cross-Country Ski Trip

2008-01-07, 08:32
Finally got out for an overnight ski. Left Saturday 4pm and returned Sunday 5pm. It was a pretty good slog though. The conditions on the Kennebecasis river were perfect. The woods on Long Island were deep with snow, but navigable. The 8km over from my house in Millidgeville went pretty quick, like 1:45 or so, then I spent an hour bushwacking in to find a campsite on the old road that runs the length of the island. Wasn't sure I found it. Turned out I had. 10am next day I bushwacked 1/2 km back across the tip of the island to the south side then about 2km up the Kennebecasis to this beaver pond I used to ski to when I was a kid. The beaver pond appeared vacant. I then bushwacked in to the center of the island to find the old road trail. Snow was 1-3 feet deep. Finally found the trail. It was even deeper. Made it back to my campsite at 3pm. I think the bushwacking was something like 3km in 4 hours. All tolled I did about 5 hours of easy skiing and 5 hours of heavy bushwacking. Temperature was about -2C the entire time, day and night. I weighed 225# plus 29# skin out less skis and poles at the start. 219# plus 31# skin out at the end. So I lost 6 pounds, mostly water, and my pack gained 2 pounds, mostly water. I ate 200g of vegetable soup and lentils, 100g of honey, only drank a total of about 2 litres in the 25 hours. Should have ate and drank more but I was experimenting. The experiment worked. I felt like crap when I got back. Wife had a Roast Beast waiting for me. Feels pretty good. I have some pictures of the campsite but didn't take any others. Should have, but I was pre-occupied.

Lessons learned:
1. -2C is really warm for winter, especially at night. I was way overdressed for the sleeping bag which made my feet colder than I would have liked, but I slept well. Next time I will wear warmer sleeping socks as thinner sleeping clothes.
2. My fire was small but I think I may have scorched the Spruce Trees roots a bit. I will try and avoid that next time as it was a nice tree mayber 30" diameter and mad a great shelter.
3. I didn't bring the Kelly Kettle as I wanted to experiment with something simpler. I just used a 700ml pot over a small fire. It worked, but a pot stand would be nice. Biggest problem was that it was OK for night but too slow to stop and make tea during the day, or even for breakfast. It was good for melting snow. I need to work on this a bit more.
4. You can eat snow. While I was hiking on the second day I skipped breakfast, which I don't recommend, but I found that I could eat snow while travelling by making a small snowball and letting my breath melt it some before drinking it. I'm guessing I have 500ml maybe. I didn't eat until about 2:30pm when I have about 60g of honey with more snow. I should have eaten and drank more but I wanted to see what effect it might have. I was somewhat dehydrated on the trip back across the ice, but not as dehydrated as I would have been if I had just had the honey without the snow. I think it is OK to eat snow but you should do it as you are moving and take it with honey. Also, you should experiment to determine how much water there is in a small packed snowball, so you can measure what your taking.
5. Bushwacking can be really slow, even as slow as 0.5km/hr. Skis will not always work in 2'-3' deep snow by still better than postholing. This snow was deep but usually wet enough to hold my weight. 250# including clothes and pack is a bit much for bushwacking, but I am not sure a pulk would have been better among the trees. The biggest problem was keeping snow from sticking, and of course the odd deep spots. I had the right grip wax but the ends didn't have a good base wax. I think my bindings are placed too far back. Perhaps something adjustable would be good. They are just regular touring skis. Not really stiff enough for my weight but that wasn't an issue. Snow shoes would have been better but I wouldn't have been able to carry the skis in the woods. All in all skis were the best for that trip because of the river crossing. I could have left stuff in camp for the bushwacking but prefer not to do so.
6. I didn't set an snares this trip, but next trip I might now that I have found the old road trail. It was completely untouched by snowmobiles, which surprised me. Next trip I will likely make camp, then set maybe 10 snares for up to 1km up trail, probably less, then retrieve snares next day. Probably be better to do that on a two nights out trip.
7. At my current weight and fitness I shouldn't count on much more than 20km per day on the river, or 4km in the bush. For a single days outing or the final day I might increase that by 50%. I am not sure I should reduce my skin out weight less skis and poles to much less than 30#. I didn't use all my clothes but it did not get very cold either. I had a chance to try out -27C a couple of nights before but wimped out. Perhaps next time after this coming thaw. :D

8. Next time I must bring a watch. Cellphone and Cameras do not a good watch make.
I could have used the watch when I was bushwacking as I hadn't a clue how long it was taking.
9. Need to make a proper sheath for my hatchet.
10. My ski boots were too small for me and need more room especially for an extended winter trek.

2008-01-07, 10:04
I'm trying to remember that site I can post pictures to, then link to from here.
I have a few photos. Not great, but not too bad. I will post them here.

2008-01-07, 12:23
photobucket works pretty goog Jak.

2008-01-07, 14:21
Thanks Mahem, here goes:

My feet and my hatchet and the gracious Spruce tree I underslept:

The branches formed a wigwam on the south side,
not really needed as it was only -2C with a very light snowfall,
2' of snow on ground but only an inch under the tree which I swept away:

I used a 2oz Ziploc box for my Miscellaneous Stuff,
it fits perfectly inside my JAM2 backpack, near the top:

Myself in Gortex Bivy reading "Too Kill a Mockingbird",
including the chapter on Snow in Maycomb Alabama.

My wool mitts and stuff drying, best mitts I ever owned,
the mitts are knit from Briggs & Little wool which is excellent,
rugged and warm and dry very easily while wearing near the fire,
or just by wearing:

My bivouac next morning from one angle showing my stuff.

My bivouac next morning from angle showing 'wigwam'.

On our way to Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum Falls July 2007:

2008-01-07, 16:54
Great pics Jak!

2008-01-08, 01:09

The trick to clothing in cold weather is layers.
In cold weather (below -10F or -23C) I often wear as much as 5 layers on my upper body (long johns, t-shirt, shirt, sweater, coat). Around 32F or 0C I'll normally just wear 3 layers (shirt, sweater, light coat).
While your moving and exercising you strip layers off so you don't get to hot and sweaty. When you stop or it gets colder put the layers back on.

Quite a few people might disagree with me on this-
I like to sleep in my underwear. I don't wear my clothes to bed. I feel I sleep warmer without them.
Though I often keep some (or all) of my clothes in the bag with me and start getting dressed inside the bag in the morning.

I've heard and read many things about how you shouldn't eat snow.
I've been eating it my entire life, and I'm not going to stop.
I melt it in my mouth while walking, and it quenches my thirst.
Never caused me a problem.

edit -Oh forgot to tell you nice pictures

2008-01-08, 01:55
I agree 100% DK. Jak ,Man in spirit I'm there. Thanks. SS

2008-01-08, 08:35

The trick to clothing in cold weather is layers.
In cold weather (below -10F or -23C) I often wear as much as 5 layers on my upper body (long johns, t-shirt, shirt, sweater, coat). Around 32F or 0C I'll normally just wear 3 layers (shirt, sweater, light coat).
While your moving and exercising you strip layers off so you don't get to hot and sweaty. When you stop or it gets colder put the layers back on.

Quite a few people might disagree with me on this-
I like to sleep in my underwear. I don't wear my clothes to bed. I feel I sleep warmer without them.
Though I often keep some (or all) of my clothes in the bag with me and start getting dressed inside the bag in the morning.

I've heard and read many things about how you shouldn't eat snow.
I've been eating it my entire life, and I'm not going to stop.
I melt it in my mouth while walking, and it quenches my thirst.
Never caused me a problem.

edit -Oh forgot to tell you nice picturesdropkick,
As you can see from the last pic I also believe in layers, and include a few extra ones beneath my skin. :)

This was my clothing on this trip. It was a near constant -2C the entire time, on account of the coming thaw, so the layers never really got tested.

First trip across the ice:
feet: thin wool socks as shown in pic plus cross-country boots.
bottom: 8oz polyester tights plus nylon shorts
top: light alpaca wool sweater and 2 pound wool vest.
head, hands: just a tilley hat and sunglasses.

After bushwacking in a bit and making camp I added the following layers after cooling down:
feet: heavy wool socks
bottom: 200wt fleece pants and 5oz nylon rain pants
top: 200wt fleece top and 5oz nylon rain jacket
head, hands: fleece balaclava and polyester double lined gloves with rubber dots

I slept in all of the above which was probably a mistake as it made my feet cold, though I slept well after reading my book. I would normally have slept in just my Stanfield Wool Long Underwear which I brought for a reserve. I tend to save my skin layer for sleeping, or when I really need it. The next day I didn't wake up until about 10am on account of late night reading. I decided to break camp quickly and eat later. Turned out I didn't eat much at all. I wore all of the above bushwacking across the tip of the island about 1/2 km, moving slow to now overheat, then skiid maybe 2km up river and then bushwacked in again and back to camp 3km maybe but 4 hours of heavy going returning at 3pm. I ate snow as I went and had some honey, 60g maybe, at 2pm plus more snow. Should have had more snow maybe. During that bushwacking I peeled off all my top laters and wore my wool loose. I find pants never get all that wet from the inside like tops do. When I got to the river I peeled right down to what I had on the trip across, though there was a bit of a head wind I didn't need any shells, but I wore my gloves and tilley hat over my ears. I was plent warm for the 2 hour trip back across the ice, but I was pretty shagged out by then.

I am very pleased with my Alpaca sweater and Wool vest combo.
I was also very pleased with the 8oz polyester tights. Stayed dry.
The 200wt top was probably overkill but it has a very nice pouch.
Also, I like to be prepared for -20F even if they don't call for it.

My ski boots were woefully inadequate, but I knew that. Need more room for socks. My feet were never cold, but if it was more days and I got into serious trudging in very cold weather I would have been painfully blistered and without enough room for socks to keep my feet warm and dry. Feet need room in winter, but I knew that. :banghead:

2008-01-08, 08:56
Here is a map of the island I was messing about on.

Perhaps I will bring a copy of this map next time. Nothing like bushwacking in 3 feet of snow when your twice as heavy as you were when you were a kid. I skiid over from the south and camped just in from Rayworth Beach. Next day I bushwacked back to the East side, then back in from Cathline Cove. I used my compass, but found myself heading North and even Northeast sometimes instead of more West. Also didn't remember the old road as being so far to the other side. Lets say it was memorable, but I made it for dinner. ;)

2008-01-25, 08:50
I just got back from an early morning jaunt. Headed out across the ice. -21C at 5am. -23C by the time I got back. I got the bick lighter working but the hobbo stove I put together at the last minute sucked. So no oats for this lad. I wasn't out long enough to get hungry I just wanted to test things out.

Freakin Coyotes. When I got over to goat island (only about a mile from me house) I hiked up to the top of it, a small round island with mostly cedar and rock. Just as I was settling down to make a fire I heard these freakin coyotes. Not sure how many. We have big ones here. So I sauntered back down to the ice, with a big stick silly me, but they were gone by the time I got there. I found at least three tracks. Not sure where they were coming from or where they were going but I figure they must have picked up my scent and thats what all the noise was about. I'm thinking they are coming across the ice in search of food and the cold might be making them bold. I don't know dick about our coyotes. Lots of deer in the city. It would be nice to get a photo of our coyotes on the ice.

So after a failed attempt at breakfast I headed home but was about 15 minutes late so walked to work and here I am. I noticed a lot of tracks on the walk to work also but those could be dogs. So I need to work on my hobbo skills, but at least I was very happy with my clothing.

I am the worst photographer in the world.
My sad excuse for a hobbo stove is in the bottom pic, just behind my pointy stick:

2008-01-25, 23:53

You could take much worse pictures than these, and I'm sure with practice you will.

2nd one is actually kind of pretty.

Little far away for any detail on your stove though. How did you build it?

Wouldn't worry about coyotes as it's extremely rare for them to attack a human. And almost unheard of for them to try a healthy adult.

Note for Rock
I think you should ban jacky1982 as he/she is a stealth spammer.

2008-01-26, 00:38
This is the basic design for a new hobo I've been thinking of making out of a large stew can.
Stole the idea for the airflow design from my barbecue.
I think it'll burn well without needing any blowing or other help from me, even with the top closed by my pot.
Haven't got around to building it yet. Maybe you or someone else on the board could build it and try it out for me.
-That way I could get all the benefits without the effort.

2008-01-26, 14:26
Been meaning to post in this thread for awhile. Just so busy.

You got mad Hobo skills Jak :beer: :adore:

Love the campsite and simple gear choices.

Now I just have to tempt you to start riding cargo trains :biggrin:

Two big thumbs up on all counts. Thanks for sharing.

2009-01-12, 06:18
Monday January 12, 2009

Fell asleep reading "Life and Sport on the North Shore" to my daughter so I woke up early, tossed her in with the wife, and went for an early morning walk to work. It was beautiful. -17C, or about 2degF, no wind, and a Full Wolf Moon. I got dressed, made a coffee, cleaned up some fresh powder off the driveway and headed out about 5:30am. I decided to take the river and see what it was like for skiing, so I walked down the path and the km down to the foot of Millidge Avenue by the Royal Kennebeccasis Yacht Club and out onto the ice where the fishing shacks are. The river is frozen very thick now, and its a bit drifty but still very good for cross-country skiing or walking. It was about another km across the ice to the light at the foot of Tucker Park hill, and then the 2km path up to the University. I saw deer tracks in my driveway, fox and snowmobile tracks out on the ice, and someone with snowshoes had broken the trail for me up Tucker Park Hill. I don't use snowshoes myself, but I think they have an advantage even if the snow is not too deep in breaking a trail for a loaded toboggan, so I might try them out some day. Clothes worked but were not remarkable except to say that I need to knit myself a new neck/face tube to replace the alpaca tube I misplaced. Its about the easiest thing to knit, after a scarf.

My responsibilities have piled up on me like snow on a neglected driveway, though I've actually done a fair job on the driveway this year. I may not get out for a long hike for awhile, but I think these early morning excursions are a real gift from God, and I'll try and do more of them, even when the weather isn't so perfect. I am lucky to live here. I will be teaching some fluids labs this fall while finishing my long overdue thesis, and doing some marking which will keep me busy. I will also volunteer for chess again down at my daughters school. It makes her prowd and gives me a good walk twice a week. If I don't bum any rides home from my wife I could do 7km a day to/from work, plus 4x3km for chess, so perhaps 50km a week plus some cross-country skiing and hikes with my daughter and a friend. That might get me back in shape and get me living right. Here's hoping.

2009-01-12, 11:34
I've been doing some winter hiking around Ohio the last couple of weeks. Mostly day hikes in the city's parks, but I did get out of town for a little overnighter in last weekend. I took to much gear because I hadn't done any winter backpacking in years. I took enough to be sure I was safe, then experimented with using as little as possible. Temps have been down to about 22deg F my quick estimate makes that -5 ish deg C. When it is still and there is snow, that feels warm. When there is no snow, and wind that feels really cold

I have been experimenting with layers and the like, and one thing I have decided is that a key feature is venting. The human body will naturally make "Hot Spots" and these will be warm with only a little excercise... I'm refereing to especially the arm pits and crotch, and maybe the back where my pack is. I find that even in the winter I need air flow to cool these areas or I will start sweating. Even though my extreamities are cold. A lot of jackets have "Pit Zips" and I tried wearing Zip off pants in the winter... I Undid the zips half way, and it let air up to cool me off. If my pack started getting hot I took off my hat and this vented a lot of heat. after about ten min I would put it back on an be comfy.

I'd really like to know if anyone else has noticed this, and how they deal with it.

2009-01-12, 17:31
I wear a very light wind and rain shells in winter, same as year round, and they come off if I start sweating seriously. Wind shell is 4oz breathable nylon. Wind/Rain/Snow pants are 8oz, until I find something lighter. Rain poncho is 8oz. If it is very cold and windy they might be left on when resting, and I don't mind some moisture underneath, as long as its warm moisture and doesn't build up too much. Wool can absorb alot of moisture, and recaptures that latent heat. You just have to be able to dry it out at some point later, by removing the shells, and getting active, or making a fire. I don't use zips, except the half zip at the neck, and the draw string at the waist, and removing them altogether. A heavy wool sweater will dry out be keeping it on and removing your skin layer and wind shell, and going active or making a fire if your cold. 200wt fleece pants don't get so wet, but can be dried out by keeping them on and blousing them up and going active, and beating off any ice or snow.

I guess in short, I ventilate mostly by removing shells and skin layers,
and dry out wet layers by keeping them on and going active or making a fire.

2009-01-13, 11:02
Tuesday January 13, 2009
Nice hike to work again this moring, across the ice and up the hill. It was good to see my tracks from yesterday morning, and from the trip home last night. It was 0degF this morning, though it had gone down to -10degF last night. I might catch some -15degF this coming weekend. I replaced the alpaca neck tube I misplaced with a thick knit lopi wool thing I knit last winter and then sewed last night into a tube. It worked well, and when I get the size right I will knit something as a tube. It needs to be tight across the nose when pulled up above the nose. I think it works best if your breath either goes through it, or doesn't go near it. The alpaca one was great, soft and light, but I think this thick course knit one will be just as functional once I'm done. My light leather boots are working great this winter, but I still need to do something about a better tread, and I want to sew on a short fleece gaitor to keep snow out. I have been wearing a heavy hooded helly hansen fleece overcoat, sort of semiwindproofed on the outside, and lambswooly on the inside. I would prefer it to be 1/2 zip with a pouch rather than pockets, and I might convert it. The zipper came undone at the bottom so that might be the last straw. It is awesome over my wool sweater though. I think fleece over wool is the way to go, with skin layers removed to reserve them for colder conditions. So wool sweater always, then overfleece on cold days, then skin layer on colder days, and wind layer when stopped or for short windy sections. For pants I like shorts plus skin layer, plus 200wt fleece when needed, which can be bloused up when warm rather than removed. I don't have light wind pants, and I don't like my hiking pants. When I convert my overfleece to a 1/2 zip I will make sure it can be pulled over my knees when I stop to rest. That is often useful. Still a work in progress. My 10oz daypack is working great. It fits under the overfleece. On an overnight trip, skiing or trudging, I will use my Jam2. Need to build a bigger better hobostove for my -15F night this coming Saturday. I might start having lunch outdoors at noon, down in the woods. That would be fun. Going for a short cross-country ski after school with Margaret and a friend of mine and his daughter. It's going up today to just below freezing, which is good for skiing, though I like to ski in everything.


2009-01-13, 15:06
nice pic's have you thought about adapting your bivi I think I might have a similar type and have inserted a 5' splash proof zip along the top to aid entrance and exiting, If it rains just put up a tarp!!

2009-01-14, 08:47
I don't mind using the potato sack method of getting in and out. I have thought about cutting it down to save some weight, maybe using it for just the top half and the blue foam pad for the bottom half, but I haven't got the nerve yet. Maybe on some trip this winter I'll bring along alot of extra thread with my repair kit. :)

Went for a short cross-country ski out on the ice yesterday, from just before to just after dark. It was lots of fun. Margarets second time skiing and first time skiing out on the river. Somewhat miserable wind in the middle though not that cold, right around freezing, with some damp in it. She has a mind of her own though. She want to ski down wind. I told her if she skiis downwind she will have to ski back upwind, and that we would try that another day. I wish we had had the time to learn the lesson the right way, but we had to stick with the other two people we went with. She had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the river. Important survival skill to learn. Didn't get he clothes wet and didn't complain. Very proud dad. She did really well. Still young enough that she likes to plunk down now and then to rest. She didn't get cold though. I am not sure why kids do that more than adults. I'm sure there is a good reason, a natural instinct.

2009-01-16, 12:07
Very cold last night. Very tired today.