The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter Camping Symposium 2014

The third weekend of October was the 17th annual Winter Camping Symposium taking place at YMCA Camp Miller in Sturgeon Lake Mn. I was there for my first time with ArcFlash. I had heard about this thing going on for quite a few years and thought it was about time I joined in to see what it was all about.
About half way

The sunset was awesome
 From the photos I saw on their website it appeared to be all about warm, heated camping in canvas wall tents. I thought this would be the perfect place for me to use my lightweight canvas pyramid tent and extra small wood stove, so I signed up.The requirement for myself was to at least partially ride my bike to the event with all of my gear that I would need in a real winter bike-packing situation with my heated system.
AF got this photo...I like it 

Dude from  Enlightened 
 Originally AF and I were going to drive up together, park our vehicle and ride the last 15-20 miles. AF decided not to ride and volunteered to drop me off anywhere I wanted. This worked out well since I was able to have him bring some of my gear and fire-wood. This was a bit of a cheat on my part, but as far as having everything I would need to camp free and clear of assistance I was prepared. On the bike I had tent,wood stove,cook-wear, including a small stove, sleeping mat,sleeping bag,ground cloth,enough food for a dinner and breakfast, fold-able water bottles, head lamp, and an extra down jacket. In Af's van was some more food, pop, and clothing. The fire wood was brought along because I wasn't sure if I would be able to forage for my own on site, so I didn't consider that cheating.
Muskrat Metal Works....nice stoves made by a super cool dude

Cooke Custom Sewing...another nice and knowledgeable fellow
AF dropped me off in Finlayson, about 14-15 miles from the site in Sturgeon Lake. The ride was super easy on the Munger Trail , a relatively flat, paved, former railroad grade. I didn't care, it was just what I need after a long work week, it was also a beautiful, unseasonably warm evening. I arrived after dark and was greeted by someone at the check-in station. AF was also there and he showed me to the little spot for us to set-up our tents.
All the comforts of home

Super light heated tents made by the guy from Empire Wool and Canvas for his personal use 
The next morning I got a fire going and warmed up the tent while I was still in my sleeping bag. It wasn't very cold for "winter camping", maybe 35 F, but as long as I had the wood stove I might as well enjoy my breakfast sitting in a t-shirt. The first seminars got going at 10 am, AF and I stuck together and sat-in on one about cold weather hammocks. From there we went to see about making bread in a frying pan. We ducked out early to go see another about wood stoves, Muskrat Metalworks stoves in particular. After that we caught the tail end of a clinic about making your own choppers from Cooke Custom Sewing and then another from the same guy about tarps and how to rig them. There were also some presentations about fat-bikes and fat-bike travel.
Old school canvas tent conversion 

Gigantic M-1950 arctic military tent
In the afternoon there was also a tent tour in which a large group traveled the grounds and those in the group that wanted to share anything about their particular tent could do so at that time. They almost missed mine, it was so small some wondered if it was for pets or just some sort of a display. My system was not as well received as I had hoped, some thought it was really cool while others didn't seem to get it. Big tents with all the comforts of home seemed to be the way a lot of the campers leaned.
These were everywhere wonder, they are great tents by Snowtrekker

custom made double wall tent made by the guy from Muskrat MW
  The day was jam packed with useful information from the presenters as well as others chiming in about their own tips and tricks. The seminars went well into the evening with the main guest speaker presenting a slide show of this accomplishment in achieving the Triple Crown , with an emphasis on the snowy sections. After that was a screening of a short film of a winter expedition in Canada. From there the party moved to either a large fire outside or live music in one of the other buildings, and in the wee hours became one at the fire.   I met quite a few interesting, knowledgeable, and friendly people and will definitly be back in 2015 to have some more fun.


  1. Thanks for posting! Another great post!!!

  2. Thanks for commenting.... Love the photo dumps on your Blog....wish you had more. Were you at the symposium?

  3. No I wasn't at the symposium but I've heard about it before. Since I got on Facebook years ago, I rarely put anything up on my blog anymore. Your's and Republic of Doom are my favorite blogs to read. Your's proves that you can find adventure in the Midwest if you want it. Joe in Iowa.

  4. Thanks for compliment ....Republic of doom is my fav as well... As far as adventure here in the midwest, particularly here in Minnesota I feel we are very fortunate in the amount of activities we have available... we only lack elevation

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