41

Yurt Ski Trip

By STEPHEN REGENOLD
Published: September 18, 2006

It was early Sunday morning when I heard the airplane overhead. If the passengers saw us, I was sure we’d be mistaken for moose. This deep in the Canadian wilderness, in the middle of an immense frozen lake, people would assume four slow-moving black dots to be wildlife of some sort.

Most of the time they’d be right. We were definitely outnumbered by the moose and wolves and white tail deer of the region. And except for the small Canadian town of Atikokan 20 miles away, we were likely the only humans for 100 miles in any direction.

In fact, the plane was the first sign of human life I’d seen since our ski trip began three days before.

But that’s why we came to Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park, Canada’s counterpart wilderness preserve to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Solitude is pretty much guaranteed in Quetico during winter, where only 50 to 100 people request permits to camp in the 1.2-million acre park each year between November and March.

For a change from my usual winter-camping routine, which involves sleeping out under the stars in northern Minnesota, I invited my father, Chuck, and a friend, Steve Millard, on a ski trip guided by the Atikokan-based Quetico Outfitters. Instead of small camp stoves and puffy sleeping bags to keep us warm, we’d rely on a network of large, canvas-walled tents and a pair of teepee-like structures called yurts that are set up about 20 kilometers apart along Quetico’s northern boundary.

These wilderness shelters let groups like ours ski or snowshoe from tent to tent each day, eliminating the burden of having to make a camp every evening. Unlike a normal winter-camping trip, my backpack weighed less than 30 pounds, as the tents had been stocked ahead of time with sleeping bags, air mattresses, cooking supplies and all the items I’d normally have to haul in. Our guide, Garth Stromberg, carried most of the food in his backpack and doubled as the chef during our three-day trip.


Despite the lightened load, our journey through the park was a serious, strenuous adventure. We spent the first night in a yurt at Quetico’s drive-in Dawson Trail Campground then jumped in the next morning with a 22-kilometer ski.

Stromberg led on the hilly portage trail from the campground. He paused every few minutes — arm outstretched, ski pole dangling from his wrist — to point out untouched 350-year-old white pines or wolf tracks in the snow.

After an hour of skiing, the trail ended and the snow got deep. We coasted downhill onto Pickerel Lake, an immense body of water the stretches more than 40 kilometers east to west. Most of our time for the next two days would be spent on Pickerel’s seemingly endless ice shelf.

On the lake, the usual kick-glide cadence of Nordic skiing was replaced with plodding through ankle-deep snow. When breaking trail my ski tips poked just a few millimeters out of the fluffy mantle. For six hours we laid fresh tracks across miles of featureless lake ice.

While Stromberg guided much of the time, he was happy to let us lead and navigate across Pickerel’s island- and bay-riddled expanse. On the ice, peninsulas looked like islands, and passages that seemed to be heading the right way often dead-ended in bays. Because of this, I unzipped my chest pocket every half-hour to retrieve the map and check location.

Three kilometers from camp, the clouds lowered and the sun grew dim. Daylight became flat and weak. White sky blended with the snow, and there was an utter, almost surreal lack of detail: no color, no topography, no trees or rocks.

Darkness set in as we skied into a bay halfway down Pickerel Lake and found the gear Stromberg had pulled in on a sled earlier in the week. Because we were his first group of the year to this location, the canvas tent had not yet been set up.


Working with the canvas tent, which Stromberg referred to as a prospector-style tent, was the most interesting part of the trip for me. These shelters, which are still made by the 120-year-old company Woods Canada, let you quickly set up an oasis of warmth in an otherwise cold, snowy world. Without such structures, the trappers, explorers and mining prospectors of the past would have lived a very uncomfortable existence in this region.

When we arrived at the camp on Friday night after the 22-kilometer ski, the wind was blowing and we were exhausted. It was after dark and our tent was on the ground folded up next to some pine logs.

Jumping up and down to stay warm, I followed orders and tied cord around trees, heaved log poles into place and kicked snow around the bottom edges of the canvas to seal off the tent from wind. Stromberg unpacked the barrel-shape wood-burning stove and fitted sections of chimney together.

Everyone was required to pitch in at camp. After an hour working on the tent, we chopped wood, chipped a hole in the lake ice to get drinking water, and retrieved stones from under the snow for use in the tent with the stove. But no one minded. It was actually a blast getting our hands dirty and learning how the people of this region survived the long winter months before civilization moved in.

After two hours of set-up chores, we were inside the tent sitting next to the stove and waiting for a pot of water to heat. The interior space was huge, measuring 12 × 14 feet with a 7.5-foot sloped ceiling. The four members of our group could stretch out, walk around, organize gear, cook, and wash dishes without interfering with one another. There was so much space that we moved the woodpile inside by the stove so we wouldn’t have to step out into the snow to get logs.

Later in the evening, as the stove roared, I hung up a small thermometer in the middle of the tent. I was amazed to see the mercury at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, as it was below zero just a couple inches away on the other side of the canvas.

While regular winter camping can be tolerable with the right gear, I’ve found it more often to be cold and somewhat miserable, especially if my clothing is damp from the day’s ski. Not so in this tent. We added some big logs to the stove before bed and slept comfortably just inches away on soft air mattresses. Our wet mitts and long johns hung above drying all night long on a clothesline. And if we felt like going out for some late night stargazing, we could stand up straight and easily put our boots and jackets back on without disturbing our snoozing tent buddies.

The trip in general was a strange mix of pain and pleasure, modern and primitive. Long ski trips during the day in cold temps and harsh winds were balanced by warm, quiet nights around the wood-burning stove. We had to chip through lake ice to get water, but once it was in the kettle we could have hot coffee in minutes. These simple touches of civilization felt luxurious within Quetico’s wild, remote backdrop.


For three days in early January we did not see anyone else in the woods. For three days we did not hear car noise on a distant highway and did not cross any road. We didn’t even use a trail map.

Instead, we skied alongside wolf tracks. We followed the path of a moose onto an island. We saw bright stars. We skied past old-growth forests and pink granite outcroppings.

But I expected all of this. It was beautiful, but it was anticipated.

What I didn’t expect was the awing, vast silence of the region.

I stood on the lake alone one evening and looked out into the darkness. The moon shined dimly through low clouds. Snow was a soft and muted shade of gray. The shore across the bay was blurry and barely visible.

No sound. No movement. No wind. The stars were hidden under clouds. The trees just motionless silhouettes onshore.

I was alone with my thoughts. I paused and heard nothing at all but my own, distant heartbeat.

This is the general circumstance in the winter woods, I realized at that moment. Once in a while a wolf will run by, a bird will land on a branch, snow will fall or the wind will blow. But otherwise silence and cold stillness is the state of being.

And this great stillness stretches north a thousand miles to the arctic.

I was humbled: I was made to feel inconsequential on the lake that night. Yet I also felt strangely privileged and happy to be a part of this quiet place.

My boots crunching on the snow sounded extra loud as I walked back toward camp. The moonlight was dim on the trail leading uphill to the tent. The golden glow of the stove flickered on the outside canvas walls as I approached.

I could hear my father’s voice. He was telling the others that he’d always wanted to set up a place in the woods like this and live simply for a week or two. I slipped quietly inside, took off my boots, and moved close to the fire to warm up.

41 comments - Add Comment Permalink Discuss Article Bookmark and Share
Commenting on post : Yurt Ski Trip
Posted by Kurt Fischer - 02/18/2010 02:29 PM

Garth,
Where are you buddy??
need to contact you. email me at the address included

Posted by Marylou - 04/02/2013 07:32 AM

Why viewers still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing is accessible on web?

Posted by ski rentals - 08/06/2013 10:15 PM

May I simply say what a relief to uncover a person that actually knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to look at this and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you
aren’t more popular since you certainly have the gift.

Posted by gold watches - 10/06/2013 05:07 AM

Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

Posted by gold watches - 10/06/2013 11:45 AM

For hottest information you have to pay a quick visit world-wide-web and on world-wide-web I found this
website as a finest site for hottest updates.

Posted by elder scrolls online gameplay - 10/16/2013 12:39 AM

Hi! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin
for my comment form? I’m using the same
blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
Thanks a lot!

Posted by http://vcipl.in/user.php?login=marciahgi - 10/27/2013 03:21 AM

Hi there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic
however I had to ask. Does building a well-established website such as yours take a
large amount of work? I am brand new to blogging but I do write in my diary everyday.

I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views online.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions or
tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate
it!

Posted by extra cash - 10/30/2013 11:53 AM

Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
Any tips?

Posted by Elder scrolls beta - 11/03/2013 05:59 PM

Thanks for some other wonderful article. Where else may anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal way
of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look
for such information.

Posted by morrissey tickets usa - 04/28/2014 09:16 PM

But certain pockets in metros like Mumbai, Delhi
and Bangalore can easily see a modest correction, hence
a prospective homebuyer can wait to clinch a more
affordable deal [url=http://morrisseytickets2014.com/]morrissey tickets
usa[/url] should you be provided over the limit, then the lending company is not licensed
from the state.

Posted by อาชีพเสริมทําเงิน - 05/06/2014 03:09 PM

Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favourite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest factor to
remember of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst
other people consider issues that they plainly don’t recognize about.
You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest
as neatly as defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other
folks could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
Thank you

Feel free to visit my blog post: [url=https://www.facebook.com/thaimoneycareer]อาชีพเสริมทําเงิน[/url]

Posted by หาเงิน - 05/07/2014 10:45 PM

I think the admin of this web site is actually working hard in favor of his web page, for the reason that here every information
is quality based material.

My web-site; [url=https://www.facebook.com/parttimesoi]หาเงิน[/url]

Posted by หาเงินออนไลน์ - 05/08/2014 04:19 PM

Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from
an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog?
I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out
pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to begin.
Do you have any tips or suggestions? Cheers

My web page [url=https://www.facebook.com/moneyinweb]หาเงินออนไลน์[/url]

Posted by hemorrhoids no bleeding - 05/09/2014 08:52 PM

Remarkable ideas. Studies has shown that it is powerful towards appetite suppression fat using and increased power metabolism.
Hemorrhoids Treatment Cure is certainly loaded with necessary vitamins,
fibers, minerals and many other healthy vitamins the human body requires.

Right now the question is what exactly happen to be the rewards to deciding upon and using Hemorrhoids Treatment Cure?
Let’s consider a closer appear at Hemorrhoids Treatment Cure success stories

Posted by porn - 05/09/2014 10:38 PM

If you would like to improve your familiarity only keep visiting this web page and be updated with the hottest news update posted here.

my page [url=http://www.m88so.com/Main/Home.aspx?affiliateId=20518]porn[/url]

Posted by งานพิเศษ - 05/12/2014 12:19 AM

I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
my own blog and was curious what all is needed to get set up?
I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

Also visit my homepage … [url=https://www.facebook.com/moneyinweb]งานพิเศษ[/url]

Posted by 7m ราคาบอล - 05/14/2014 03:50 AM

Wow, this paragraph is good, my sister is
analyzing these kinds of things, so I am gojng to inform her.

My weblog :: [url=http://kkiane.com/xe/?document_srl=485154]7m ราคาบอล[/url]

Posted by m88 - 05/19/2014 07:43 AM

Hi there, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing data,
that’s truly fine, keep up writing.

Posted by garcinia cambogia pure extract - 05/19/2014 03:12 PM

Remarkable ideas. Basic research has demonstrated that
it is efficient in direction of appetite suppression fat getting rid of and increased electricity metabolism.
Garcinia Cambogia will be loaded with necessary vitamins, fibers, minerals and
different healthy vitamin supplements the human body requires.
Presently the question will be what precisely tend to be the features to picking out and working with
Garcinina? Let’s get a closer glance at Garcinia Cambogia success stories

Posted by m88 - 05/20/2014 12:55 AM

Hi! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!
Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
Carry on the fantastic work!

Posted by jobblog - 05/23/2014 01:46 AM

เด็ดพิจารณาสิ่งที่คุณกล่าวว่า เหตุผลที่ชื่นชอบของคุณดูเหมือนจะเป็นบนอินเทอร์เน็ตเป็นปัจจัยที่ง่ายที่สุดในการ
จำของ ผมพูดกับคุณแน่นอนผมได้รับรำคาญในขณะที่
คนอื่น ๆ พิจารณาเรื่องที่พวกเขาชัดถ้อยชัดคำไม่รู้จักเกี่ยวกับการ
ควบคุมคุณจะตีเล็บบนที่สูงที่สุด
เป็นอย่างเรียบร้อยตามที่กำหนดออกสิ่งทั้งหมดที่มีความจำเป็นที่จะต้องไม่มีผลข้างเคียงอื่น ๆ
คนได้ ใช้สัญญาณ มีแนวโน้มที่จะกลับมาจะได้รับเพิ่มเติม
ขอบคุณ

โปรดเยี่ยมชมบล็อกโพสต์ของฉัน: http://parttimejobth2557.blogspot.com [งาน part time 2557]
Thank u.

Posted by คาสิโนออนไลน์ - 05/24/2014 04:23 PM

Excellent, what a blog it is! This website presents useful information to us,
keep it up.

Take a look at my page [url=http://www.paris-paname.com/modules.php?name=Your_Account&op=userinfo&username=CUlmer]คาสิโนออนไลน์[/url]

Posted by site - 05/25/2014 10:53 AM

Thanks on your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,
you might be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come back sometime soon. I want
to encourage continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

Posted by Vigrx - 06/02/2014 03:18 PM

Outstanding post,I am going to invest more time exploring this subject
matter.

Posted by http://www.sangerhausen-flirt.de - 06/03/2014 08:11 PM

I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I
will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.

I am quite certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!
Good luck for the next!

Posted by police impound cars for sale - 06/08/2014 06:53 AM

magnificent submit, very informative. I’m wondering why
the other experts of this sector do not notice this.
You must continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

Posted by 23hq.com - 06/09/2014 04:14 AM

At this time it appears like Expression Engine is the best blogging platform out there right now.
(from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

Posted by หนังโป๊ - 06/12/2014 04:54 AM

Thanks in favor of sharing such a good thinking, paragraph is fastidious, thats why i have read it fully

Check out my web blog :: [url=https://www.sbobetasia69.com]หนังโป๊[/url]

Posted by Pearly Penile Papule - 06/16/2014 12:11 AM

What’s up friends, how is the whole thing, and what you
would like to say on the topic of this post, in my view its genuinely amazing in support of me.

Here is my webpage … [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hrcRsjtS4o]Pearly Penile Papule[/url]

Posted by Statejournal.Com - 06/18/2014 05:30 PM

Right away I am going away to do my breakfast,
after having my breakfast coming yet again to read more news.

Posted by Tiffany Blue Nikes - 06/19/2014 03:49 AM

Hi there to every one, it’s really a good for me
to visit this web site, it contains important Information.

Posted by http://brandrace.pl - 06/23/2014 11:12 PM

I read this article fully on the topic of the
resemblance of newest and previous technologies, it’s amazing article.

Posted by iherb coupon - 06/26/2014 01:38 AM

What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge on the topic of unpredicted emotions.

My web page – [url=http://ezhealthinsurance.org/how-to-increase-your-vitamin-c-with-an-iherb-coupon.html/]iherb coupon[/url]

Posted by Mohammad - 07/03/2014 02:23 PM

The hype and speculation for these startup companies were so large that stock market investors in venture
capitalists alike could not resist investing in these companies.
Moreover, what is marketing itself. I had to go through a lot to finally discover what the
best internet marketing training program needs for you
to get the best and most informative training possible.

Have a look at my weblog … internet marketing for small business ([url=http://S1302.Photobucket.com/user/InternetMarketers/media/InternetMarketingampArticleMarketingInIndiaBySEOInIndiaPart5_360p_zps5314244f.mp4.html]Mohammad[/url])

Posted by AskNow Reviews - 07/04/2014 07:58 PM

Whatever that may be, it will be a life
altering event. Attempting to control your globe, even with the best of intentions, only complicates things.
Get a book or go online to get a listing of meanings
for all the cards.

My website :: [url=http://tigda.com/asknowpsychics93886]AskNow Reviews[/url]

Posted by antivirus free download - 07/05/2014 03:05 PM

Movie downloads and other heavy video download sites came up
in the past few years. The standard manufacturers like Norton or Mc – Afee already control a large part of the market.
There are a lot of websites which offer legal MP3 music downloads.

Posted by milk of magnesia ingredients - 07/07/2014 12:04 PM

Hello I am so delighted I found your website, I really found
you by error, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here
now and would just like to say cheers for a remarkable post and a all round
interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all
at the minute but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back
to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

Posted by oakley sunglasses cheap prices - 07/14/2014 01:31 PM

Come To Buy official cheap oakley sunglasses ,And You Will Enjoy A Special Discount.If You Move
Words!Hurry Up To Buy Now!

more from:[url=http://www.vonmisesinstitute-europe.org]oakley sunglasses cheap prices[/url]

Posted by humax tv portal problems - 07/14/2014 05:54 PM

Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and
Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs
and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

Posted by luantik promo code - 07/15/2014 08:54 PM

What’s up, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post.
It was helpful. Keep on posting!

My website: [url=http://www.ipc3.com/getting-to-know-the-lunatik-seismik-ipod-touch-case/]luantik promo
code[/url]

Posted by Buddy - 07/22/2014 01:03 AM

Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & itt helped me out much.
I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

Also visit my website hair loss treatment for women – [url=https://LewisJochumsen.shutterfly.com/21,]Buddy[/url],

Add Comment

  1. Add link by using "LinkText":http://google.com