Location: Douglas Trail in the Clifty Wilderness of the Daniel Boone National Forest again…I swear I go backpacking on other trails.
Duration: One night
Date: January 2017
This year, we decided to do an overnight in January??? This was definitely the coldest it’s been while I’ve been out in the wilderness. We got to the parking lot after dark, since it was winter, and slowly hiked through the icy rocks and roots that covered the trail. Occasionally, we would hear the loud cracking of the ice somewhere along the river.
We were determined to grill the venison steaks my dad gave me with mushrooms and onions and spent at least two hours getting a cooking fire going. Luckily we brought some of my homemade fire-starters, which are 2-3 inches of paper towel or toilet paper tube stuffed with dryer lint and soaked in wax. They burn for about 15 minutes and are very helpful when it is damp and/or cold. Screw trying to make a fire with flint and steel or some crap. Lighter and dyer lint fire starter works for me.
Let me tell ya, it was COLD! We brought a few things to help survive in a low of 10ºF: 1) Lots of layers. I don’t remember exactly what I wore but it would have been something like hat, buff, tank top, base layer, sweater, puffy jacket, rain shell, long underwear, hiking pants, 2 pairs of socks, hiking boots, glove liner, gloves. 2) Hand and foot warmers. I was really hoping to keep my toes and fingers and these guys helped out a ton. 3) Really warm sleeping bag. Mine is rated for 0ºF. 4) Tea light candles. This was Tarzan’s idea. He brought them as a surprise and put them all around the camp site (I wish I could have gotten a good picture). These didn’t actually help us keep warm, but it did give our campsite a luminous ambiance that just felt cozy. I actually wasn’t that uncomfortable for most of the time, but there were about 15 minutes of me huddling around a tiny, barely lit fire while Tarzan went to get more wood that I was like…”Wow! I am VERY cold.” But then he got the fire roaring and everything was ok.
Once we got some good coals, we grilled the venison steaks with mushrooms and onions and it was delicious!!! We had to eat it fast, before it got cold. Our water bottles were freezing, so we had to put them near the fire, but not too close because Nalgenes melt…Tarzan melted a Nalgene on this trip and melted a second one on our next trip in February. We crawled in our sleeping bags and went to bed immediately after eating. It was probably around 2 or 3 am anyway.
The next morning we woke up late and just hung out at camp. We made personal pizzas for breakfast…it was more like lunch time anyway. We love making personal pizzas in the woods. It’s quick, easy, and tasty. After packing up we slowly hiked back to the car, stopping frequently to take pictures of the icicles and the snowy river. It was cool to see what we hiked through the night before in the daylight.
Venison steaks with mushrooms and onions (Pretty self explanatory, so I’m not making a recipe. Marinade the venison and pre cut and season the veg at home. Cook in some fat over the fire.)
Wildlife & Landmarks
icicles, rocks, river