Winter Camping at Bennett Lake

Martin Luther King weekend has become a traditional date on the calendar.  Matt, Len and Mark kept this tradition alive and were joined by a promising rookie named Rick.  The quartet set out with plans to bushwhack their way up Moose and Baldhead Mountians in the Stoney Creek area.  With Google map directions in hand the group set off on their way.  As the group neared the trail head however they were met by a seasonal highway that was obviously closed for the winter.

The seasoned vets of the group quickly saw this as a teaching opportunity for greenhorn Rick regarding the Winter Campers motto…”It’s the journey, not the destination.”  With that in mind the group quickly altered their plans to hike the Murphy/Middle/Bennett Lake trail which as luck would have it they had just passed before encountering the closed road.

With temps in the mid teens, a foot of fluffy snow under foot and snow beginning to fall the hikers set off to find a suitable tipi sight along the shores of Bennett Lake.  Len shouldered his pack and set a vigorous pace along the 1.6 mile mainly uphill hike to the lake.  Rick also carried his pack while Matt and Mark pulled their gear in sleds.

Snow started falling steadily and continued through the night while the group set camp.  Once camp was established, Matt staked out the very best spot in the tipi and left the others to scrounge for what meager space was left.  Rick showed a lot of jamboree spirit by taking the spot directly in front of the stove door so that he could continue to feed the stove while the others basked in the heat and leisurely ate their lunches.  After warming and filling their bellies they set off to explore the shores of Bennett Lake despite the inclement conditions.

Returning to camp the group took some time to cut and gather more firewood and to search for the brat buns that Len had misplaced under the falling snow.  After much shoveling the snow buried buns were found and Len built a “pan” out of the aluminum foil from his sandwich at lunch to cook the brats on the wood stove.  Unfortunately some of the brat juice ran off onto the top of the stove and temporarily filled the tipi with a smoky albeit not totally unpleasant aroma.

The group sat up and talked until about 8pm as a steady snow continued to fall outside.  Rick finally proclaimed that this was the last time he would put wood on the fire for the night fearing that once he got his sleeping bags laid out a hot ember might shoot out of the stove door and put a small ventilation hole in the nylon.  Not wanting to upset our new found fire stoker we all agreed that would be fine and retired for the night.  The crew was pleasantly awakened at about 5:30 by Rick stoking the fire back up in the morning so we could slowly wake up in warmth and pack up in the balmy conditions.  The only drawback was that the heavy frost that had formed on the inside of the tipi now became a moderate rain as it melted.  You can’t have everything I guess.

By 8:00am the crew was packed and heading out for the return home.

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