Well it’s winter, and that means its cold. A few weeks back Utah got hit with a huge storm that ended up dropping a bunch of snow all over the state. Well the weather then did something that was slightly unexpected, the clouds pulled out and it got cold.
Well you may be thinking, “yeah well it does that all the time.” And that is true, but what was unusual was that it got really really cold. Places like Moab where experiencing temperatures like -2 degrees (F), Moab usually has temperatures in the summer of 110. That’s a 110 degree temperature swing. Cedar City, where I go to school, had temperatures as low as -12 and -18.
So what did we do?
We went Camping.
Yup, the cold has arrived and that means its time for a cold winter camp out. When we went, it was at the beginning of the cold spell and temperatures were beginning to fall all over the state. We had checked the temperature that night for the region and they were saying the low of 19 degrees. Well when we arrived it was 17 degrees and the sun was still up and the temperature was still dropping.
For this adventure we went out to the western deserts of Utah directly west of Salt Lake City to Skull Valley. Out here there is a rock that juts out of the ground called Lone Rock. That was the chosen destination and on a Thursday evening we headed out. The drive from the city is about 45 minutes so not too bad, but it is still in the middle of nowhere.
After driving around the rock for a bit to find a good camping spot we chose one near a spring. The ground was covered in about 8 inches of snow, which we had to shovel out of the way before we even could set up our tents. My dad had brought along a co-worker of his and his boy and I decided to bring along my now fiance to go on this adventure, so we went about doing our work.
Me and Brianna’s tent was not so bad to put up but we couldn’t fit two air mattresses in it, so I opted to sleep on the ground. It also didn’t help that when temperatures get that low air mattresses begin to crack and the glue that holds them together fails… Well my mattress did not last 2 minutes before it died. Her mattress lasted about 1 hour then it died. That meant we had to sleep on no padding. Oh well.
Soon after that we set about making dinner and huddling around the campfire. It was cold, and only getting colder. But as the temperatures began to drop something cool began to happen. Because we were near that spring, that was somewhat of a warm water spring, there was a lot of moisture in the air. Well as the temperatures got lower, that moisture turned into fog. The fog began to at first just creep along the ground and spread out over the area, but as time went on it got thicker and thicker and covered the whole region. Soon we could not see more then 50 yards. It was amazing.
Now that I have been talking about camping let me share with you a little what its like to go cold winter camping. It’s a different dynamic. Normal equipment starts to fail, and habits have to be changed unless you want to experience some misery. Lets start with clothing. When it hits single digits, like between temperatures of 1-5 you have to be bundles in multiple layers and even still that does not help. That’s where you learn that walking and moving about becomes your best friend. I did quite a few walks that night.
Normal snow boots begin to fail you, and you have to upgrade to the heavy duty. Hunting gear becomes your best friend.
As for sleeping. Go to bed a bit thirsty. Having to wake up at 3 in the morning and having to run out side is miserable. Brianna made this mistake. She drank a full water bottle before bed and it came back to bite her big time. All night her toes were cold so she kept bringing up her feet to her body, but when she did that it pressed on her bladder making the urge to go the the bathroom all that much worse. Also remember, we don’t have an out house to go into, or somewhere warm. So when she finally got out that means she had to go use the restroom when its pitch black out side and freezing cold.
Lets just make a lists of do’s and don’ts:
- Do put your water bottle in your sleeping bag or it will freeze and you will not have water to drink
- Don’t drink all your water bottle, refer to Brianna’s example
- Do have two layers of sleeping bag. That helped a lot that night.
- Don’t use air mattress when it’s that cold, they die.
- Do go on walks, that will help your freezing toes so much
- Don’t put your shoes too close to the fire, they melt and then you have shoes with holes in them.
- Do bring your cameras, I forgot mine so I had to take my pictures with my phone.
Other fun facts:
Contact solution freezes when it hits single digits. That happened to me.
It was so cold the snow froze to my pants and did not melt the entire time I was there.
Wood no longer likes to burn with it’s that cold. It takes a lot of effort to get a fire going.
Cars don’t turn on very well either.
In the morning we finally mustered up the courage to go out and see what the night brought us. Well lets say that everything was covered in ice. Over night 1/2 inch of ice grew on the ropes. My dad turned on his truck to see what the temperature was. It said 7 degree’s. So we were guessing that it hit about 3-4 degrees at night. Probably the coldest camp out we have ever done.
It was awesome and hot coco never tasted so good.