The temperature crept up to nearly 50F last week. Snow was melting and the rumor was that one of the south facing walls at Barn Bluff in Red Wing was dry and warm, ready to climb. The forecast looked good, so Seth and I packed up our gear and our tent and headed down. It turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than expected!
First Outdoor Climbs of the Season:
The hike in was still quite snowy, and a lot of it was just plain ice. We still had a little bit of snow in our backyard, so I’m not sure why this surprised me, but it did. The wall that’s dry is the wall with more difficult climbs on it, so it was more of a project day than a sending stuff day. We hung out and worked a few routes before heading to our campsite.
We chose a walk-in site at Frontenac State Park and realized very quickly that we were probably the first to camp there in quite a while. The trail and the sites all had probably 10″ of snow covering them, something I didn’t expect at all, although in retrospect it seems pretty obvious that snow would be a possibility. This is where the tiny adventure part of the trip begins. Believe it or not, I had never set up a tent in snow before!
The question turned out to be, how do we stake out the rain fly when the ground is frozen (That was my question, at least. Seth knew all about using deadman anchors, extending the anchors with rope, tying something to the end and covering it with snow to hold it in place)? Since we weren’t very worried about rain, and the design of the tent keeps the rainfly above the mesh at the top, we just let it flap in the wind. Problem solved.
Once the tent was set up, our next project was getting a fire going. Remember the snow in our campsite? There was also ice in the firepit. A big chunk of it. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work, either, but Seth was confident that it would all be ok.
We stacked our firewood and kindling and got the fire going, but as the ice melted, it took the coals with it. We had picked up two bundles of firewood in town and quickly realized we would need more. As Seth went back into town for more firewood, I kept the fire going, bailing out water from the firepit as the ice melted.
Seth returned victoriously with more firewood, and by the end of the evening we had steamed all of the ice/water out and had a roaring fire going. We threw some hobo packs on the fire, filled with seasoned ground beef and lots of veggies, and had a delicious meal before heading to bed.
I loved that we were the only people out there, camping in the snow, making a fire on the ice, and making it work. I learned all about staking out a tent in the snow (even thought we didn’t actually do it) and the wonder of meat and veggies cooked in tinfoil. Another successful tiny adventure!