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Camping on the Smithbrook
posted by John : February 1-2, 2013

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What could go wrong?

Clara and I needed to be at the Romp to Stomp by 7:30am. Since it's a solid two hour drive from home it seemed a much better plan to just camp nearby. Yeah, it's Winter, but that's all part of the adventure, right?

Unfortunately, we got to the trailhead about an hour later than hoped. That meant we had only about an hour of daylight to find a place to set up camp. Clearly, we'd be getting the tent up in the dark, but that's what headlamps are for.

A mile up the Smithbrook Road we found a great spot off the well-traveled route to pitch camp. Tromp tromp tromp. I taught Clara how to make a tent platform in the snow and then we both worked on figuring out how to set up the tent. It's the big tent that we don't use all that often and the directions... uh... yeah. Don't know where the heck they were. After a few false starts, we got it set up and I got Clara to digging.

First, she dug out the vestibule at the front so we had a place to store gear and put our feet when sitting on the edge. It's one of the joys of snow camping and well worth the effort of digging it out. While I made dinner, she dug a dining room on the back side of the camp complete with chairs and a shelf for our drinks. She's as handy as her mother.

After the usual macaroni and cheese dinner (with M&Ms for dessert) we crawled into bed early. It was pretty warm when we turned in, so I skipped my customary practice of filling bottles with boiling water to keep our feet warm.


It quickly cooled off. Clara had both the the closed-cell pad and a comfort pad, was dressed in just about everything she had including hat and socks, and I piled on everything else on top of her. She was still cold, but slept through the night. Better than I did, surely.

We woke early and packed up in the dark. Clara's breakfast of choice, mommy bars, were frozen solid. She wasn't into the eggs and bacon so she wound up with just hot chocolate and M&Ms. Breakfast of champions.

With the tent torn down and rolled up into the pulk (yes, Le Pulk Incroyable made a triumphant return, but with rope and a pulley instead of the stiff connector rods) we started back to the road. It had iced up nicely overnight so Clara had a seat and a few pushes and I was jogging to keep up.

We were a few minutes getting late to the Romp, but in plenty of time to help set up.

As a bonus, we successfully tested two backpacks (a Gregory for the kids and a North Face for me) and a sleeping bag (Northface, 20F). The packs worked great, the bag was about the same as the existing bags we have, but didn't compress as well.

Best was that the new pulley system made the pulk easy to pull up hill. It doesn't help for the downhill, but perhaps there's a way to make that work with an attachment at the back of the pulk. I think it's still best suited for hard packed snow, but when that's where we'll be, what a wonderful way to carry a ton of stuff.

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