Archive for the ‘Algonquin’ Category

Little Yurt in the Big Woods

April 19, 2009

This post has nothing to do with trailers, but while we’re waiting for the trailer to arrive, I might as well rehash an experience I had a few winters ago in a yurt.  A yurt is a great alternative to tent camping any time of year, but particularly in the winter, when other modes of camping are prohibitive.

A yurt is based on the traditional living accommodation of Mongolian nomads called a ger.  They are round or multi-sided structures on a lattice frame and are fantastic for four season accommodation as they stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

pvcj03-2002-02-09Yurts are becoming increasingly common in campgrounds around Ontario.  Our yurt experience took place at the Mew Lake campground in Algonquin Park.  We chose to celebrate my husband’s February birthday by having a little adventure in the wilderness.   We were joined by my Mom, Dad and sister.  None of us had any experience doing anything like this, but we rolled with the punches and had a great time.

Our yurt came equipped with a few amenities.  We were thankful for the space heater.  The low that weekend was a frigid -25C.  It had a dining table in the middle of the room, and bunk beds down the sides.  This yurt could sleep six, two couples and two singles (NB they supplied the bed, we supplied the bedding/sleeping bags.)  It also had electricity courtesy of one inconveniently placed outlet.  We did most of our cooking on the open campfire outside.

All-in-all it was quite cosy and comfortable, especially in light of the alternatives I saw that weekend.

As far as I know, a pop-up trailer isn’t for use below freezing and conventional tents with fibreglass poles don’t do well at low temperatures either.  If you want to get out in the winter, you can use a tent that is designed for winter conditions, including cold, wind and snow load.  Another option is to build your own shelter. We saw several examples of these snowy abodes while we were out that weekend and we met a young woman who had built one with friends.  She had never done it before but her friends had.  These snow shelters are basically big piles of snow that have been tunnelled into to make a cavity you can sleep in.  Apparently, the smaller the cavity the warmer you’ll be, so you really only use them to go to sleep.  The woman we met said it had taken about three hours to build hers and that it seemed like it would be alright.  Later that night we met her again in the comfort station with her pants around her ankles, warming her butt under the hand dryer.  She told us that this would be her last winter camping experience.

I, on the other hand, would totally go out in the winter again, as long as I had a yurt to stay in.  Cold quiet nights are great for star gazing.  Walking out in the squeaky cold snow, we could see the Milky Way unfold before us.  It was beautiful.  During the day we did some hiking, made snow angels, watched other campers snowshoe across the lake and had a fabulous time on Algonquin’s cross country ski trails.

Our stay in the yurt was a unique adventure and it was nice to discover a comfortable way to get out in nature for a winter weekend.  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, life is better if I can get outside.  By embracing winter and the different activities  available the cold and snow become much more enjoyable.