June 5, 2011

Notes from Joe: 100-day Solo -The Ideal Arctic Camping Site

When you spend so many months away from the comforts of home, living out of a tent in what can only be described as a nomadic lifestyle, you tend to seek out the very best locations to call home for the night. 

What makes the perfect camp? 

Many factors play into my selection of camp locale.  First, and most importantly, is the availability of a fuel source.  If a site has ample willows to burn for heating and cooking, then it’s a definite candidate.  However, there are times when I have to cover  ground over the course of a few days that just doesn’t have firewood.  That is why I prefer to carry three days worth of firewood in the sleds at all times.

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Another important factor in selecting a camp is snow depth.  My tent is floorless, so although it looks as though I have to crawl around on my hands and knees in there, I can actually stand up in it.  The farther I can dig down, the taller I can stand, which of course is very comfortable. 

I use a pole to prod the snow depth. Ideally, I’ll have at least 3 feet of snow to work with.  It’s a bit more challenging to find these conditions while traveling on the coast, but in the mountains, I commonly come across locations with an excess of 6 feet of snow. 

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Another thing is that you don’t want to set up camp in a hollow or in really thick brush.  If a blizzard comes along, you’re sure to get buried.

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I like to set my tent up really close to the sleds so I have easy access to my gear and the dogs who are picketed out for the night. 

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And of course if you’re out there enjoying the Arctic, you may as well select a camp with a view!

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My tent is my own design and I’ve been using it for years.  It is insulated and equipped with a woodstove that I use for heat and cooking.  It stays amazingly warm and comfortable in there and I can easily dry wet clothing and mukluks overnight. 

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  • http://wildhorseproject.blogspot.com chloe

    Hi i really love your blog, read it all the time.

    i have nominated you for a blogger award, please check my blog to receive it and read instructions


    cheers, keep up the fantastic riding

  • Marilyn

    Fantastic, such good pictures. the silence must be golden

  • Rebecca Hartley

    Thanks for all the work you do on the blog. I learn several new things each time, like don’t set up camp in a hollow. On that one picture it looks like you were almost buried anyway. Would you comment on how deep the dogs can get buried and still be okay?

    • Hi Rebecca,

      The dogs don’t allow themselves to get buried anymore than a foot of snow. Every so often during a blizzard they’ll shake themselves off, and when their picket line becomes buried I just unhook them. This allows them to keep up with the deepening snow.

  • Kit Harland

    Joe, You set up quite a cozy camp…Your dogs are always so happy and healthy looking!

    Hope Andrea is feeling well…won’t be long now! :)
    Hugs and belly rubs to dogs,