Winter Camping Reflection
By: Fatima Abdul-Kader
It was Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 5:24 p.m. when Olivia, Amy, Makita, and myself had finished digging out our quinzee! I had soaked my jeans thoroughly and decided it was time to take a break and dry up. Inside the school 20 minutes later, I was walking around and started to scurry down the halls, waving my jeans in the air to try to dry them. After not being able to find the hand dryer in the girls bathroom, Mrs.Trumpower said I could use the dryer in the foods room to dry them up along with the snowpants. About 25 minutes later, I walked outside with a fresh pair of mittens, my jacket, the dried snowpants and another pair of snow pants from the outdoor ed room to keep me warm. Then my group and I created our platform and made details and preparations to fit four people in one quinzee.
Three things I did well upon my winter camping experience was: to build a proper quinzee, to survive the cold night, and to keep a coal burnt-like fire alive whilst cooking my supper. I knew I built a proper quinzee because it did not collapse and my group and I were able to last through the night. The platform was a bit slanted, but we built a large mound of snow and dug it out quickly. Even though the first coal-like fire went out, we persevered and tried again. After multiple failures and a little help from Mrs.Trumpower, we were able to keep the coals lit long enough to cook our food. The food was a little burnt, but we managed and I learnt how to jump start a fire by using vaseline and cotton balls!
Two things I would improve upon in my winter camping experience is the platform in our quinzee and a healthier meal where it has all the four food groups contained in that meal. The platform of my groups quinzee was slanted and therefore we were all falling down into the tunnel where the cold air could reach us. For supper we had some hot dogs and a side treat of s'mores. I would have made it a full course meal with a salad or chicken wrap, which has some chipotle sauce, a piece of chicken wrapped into a tortilla with lettuce and cheese. This meal would have completed the daily intake of nutrition needed for the four food groups (fruits and vegetables, grain products, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives).
Three recommendations for someone building and sleeping a quinzee for the first time are: to have a big shovel handy, to block the entrance while sleeping, and to supply vent holes in the quinzee. Also make sure you are properly dressed and to have the correct materials, supplies and clothing for the weather. You will need a big shovel to pile snow up quickly to create the area of your quinzee and to dig it out. You need to block your entrance while sleeping to prevent the cold from entering. Vent holes are also needed to prevent carbon monoxide and help with the circulation of breathable air. Bring a winter hat, at least two pairs of mittens, two different pairs of snowpants (one for the evening and another for digging out the quinzee), winter boots, fleece, wool or synthetic shirts/pants, and do not wear jeans! For supplies, bring a winter sleeping bag suitable for the weather (number of degrees), a thermarest, candles and a pillow. These supplies and clothing are the most important for sleeping and building a quinzee!
Overall, building and sleeping in a quinzee was an entertaining way to spend a winter camping night! The information and knowledge is vital to all people, whether they participate actively in the outdoors or if one happens to wander into a terrible storm and are in need of shelter immediately. Anybody who lives in an area where snow affects them should value this information as much as I do, it could possibly save your life one day!