We were very happy to spend a long Valentine’s Day Weekend on a 3 day/2 night basecamping adventure with one of our true loves; the Neversink Valley in the Slide Mountain Wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. We explored a gorgeous old growth valley transformed under amazingly deep snow cover—more than 3’ deep! We also experienced temps in the -20’s (-40 when the wind was blowing!)
Anticipating these conditions, we knew there was little margin for error. We knew we’d need at least 2 hours of daylight to begin construction of our shelter and gather enough firewood to warm ourselves once we completed the shelter. Just before 3pm we found a nice natural depression in the landscape, providing a bit of shelter from the wind, put our game faces on and got to work!
We decided to build a Quinzee hut, so we began by stamping out a platform in approximately 10’ x 6’ (dimensions for 2 people, one over 6’ tall.) We then mounded snow onto this outline, stopping only when we got to about 5’’ high. We then began gathering firewood, leaving the snow pile to compact under its own weight. After an hour or so, we came back to the snow pile and began digging it out, creating a snug, wind-free and (relatively) warm shelter.
After a delicious dinner around a roaring fire, we retired to our cozy shelter, which was gently lit (and warmed) with the addition of tea candles. We awoke on Sunday to a beautifully clear and bitterly cold day and decided that we’d spend our day exploring the valley, improving our campsite and preparing for our 2nd night out.
After a hike along the frozen Neversink River, we returned to camp to chop firewood, build wind breaks around camp and watch the thermometer drop... We were in negative temperatures before dark, but our roaring fire, sheltered camp & warm snow hut kept us so comfortable that we had a little Mardi Gras fun, exposing ourselves to the elements and being rewarded with beads. Of ice. In our beards...
After another great dinner and cozy night in our shelter we awoke on Monday morning, ready for a hot shower and big dinner—and we enjoyed both more than words can describe, knowing that we had not only survived two nights in record cold, but thrived!
Do you think building and sleeping in a snow shelter would be awesome? You’re right, and we’re headed out 4 more times this winter to do just that!! Come join us and learn how to own the cold! Not ready to sleep out there? That's "cool;" we've got 8 more Day Hikes this Winter—come Snowshoe with us!