I finished setting up camp at 9 o’clock at a fine little spot not far from Flamingo Crossing, also known as my backyard. The overnight low on Saturday, March 23 was predicted to feel like -17°C.
The ground was frozen and snow remained around my tent, making it difficult to stake the tent down. In retrospect, a mallet may have worked to hammer the stakes in. My tent is freestanding with a two-pole system so staking is not necessary for structure.
That being said, the wind picked up considerably after setting the tent up. There was almost no wind during setup and I figured the night would be a breeze. I’m sure the tent would have blown away had I not been weighing it down on the inside.
I’ve camped in rocky areas and been unable to stake my tent and used rocks instead. The large rocks that I have for decor in my yard are still covered by a foot and half of snow and I didn’t feel like digging them up for this adventure.
After laying in my sleeping bag for about a half an hour, I decided that I needed to make use of the hand and body warmers I had with me. After another twenty minutes or so, I decided to go inside and get my down jacket to add an extra layer of warmth.
I felt cozy and hunkered down as the wind blew the corners of my tent up. The rain fly flapped in the wind since it was not staked down. I fell asleep at 11:30 PM and slept solid until 3:30 AM.
The floor and wall of my tent felt damp when I woke up. This is the first time I have encountered condensation inside of my tent. There was thankfully no dripping condensation from the top of my tent. I’ve read “horror” stories of people waking up soaking wet because of condensation.
I hummed and hawed about what I should do. I wanted to stick it out until at least 5 AM but I also had to pee. I thought about keeping the camping experience real and peeing in my backyard but then I imagined my neighbour letting their dog out for a night time break and seeing me squatting in my backyard. I didn’t want to have to explain what I was doing the next time I saw him during daylight hours.
Looking at the above photo, you can see that I made a civilized decision to use indoor plumbing. I went inside my house at 3:45 and slept in my bed for the remainder of the night. I also felt chilled to the bone, a wet kind of cold, likely from the condensation on the floor of the tent. I considered using the emergency blanket I brought out with me but decided to just go inside.
With the strong wind and not being able to stake the tent into the ground, I packed the tent up before coming inside.
I removed the fly and put it inside the tent and I removed the poles. I kept the poles outside of the tent to prevent accidentally puncturing the mesh. I didn’t bother deflating my sleeping pad before scooping the tent up with everything inside of it. I placed the tent in front of my kitchen sink to deal with later in the morning. Upon removing all of the contents, I discovered the bottom of the sleeping pad was wet due to condensation.
Would I winter camp again? Although, technically last night was spring camping since the equinox has passed. 110% YES! The biggest change I would make right off the hop is using a tent intended for cold weather to hopefully reduce condensation. I would also use a mallet to hammer the stakes into the ground. I would also chose a trail such as Epinette that has rustic cabins with wood-heat stoves as my first venture for winter camping outside of my backyard.
Here is a short video I made right after I set my tent up:
A few details on gear:
Tent: Kelty Salida 2 three-season tent
Sleeping pad: Cabela’s Instinct
Sleeping bag: Wenger (at least 15 years old) rated to -20 °C
Two corrections from video:
* I wore a down vest, not a fleece vest
* Sleeping pad has a 4.5 R rating