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Viki Mather on the unique bliss that is winter camping

The cold can be lovely

Day two of our second winter camping trip this year. I’m in a warm tent, lying on the cot, reading the second book I brought. It’s pretty cold outside, but lovely. There are no windows in our tent, but I can see shadows of the trees on the canvas walls. And I wonder, why do we do this?

The view from my window at home is beautiful. The chair far more comfortable than this cot. The kitchen far easier to use than the big steel woodstove that heats the tent. And at home I don’t have to put on lots of warm clothes to go outside for a pee. So why do I love it here so much?

Evening comes and I take one more stroll outside the tent before going to bed. The stars above are brilliant, just like at home. But at home I don’t “need” to go outside just before bed … so I miss the night sky. 

Of course, I wake a lot through the night. The cot is not as comfortable as my bed at home. The air here is fresh, yet not too cold. Allan shuffles around every few hours to put more wood into the fire. Moon shadows now light the tent walls, and I fall softly back to sleep with the sound of the ever present shssshhh of the creek a few feet away.

Morning comes. Allan is the first one out to greet the day. He says it’s a wonderful morning. I want to stay in bed until I see the sun on the tent wall. But we are camped in a little valley. It will take a few hours for the sun to crest the high hills to the east. 

Inside the tent is warm, except for near the floor. I put long johns on under my fleece pants. Wool socks and puffy booties keep my feet warm. Heat rises so we just wear t-shirts while moving around to prepare breakfast.

When I finally do go outside, it is breathtaking. Partly because of the cold, but mostly because the scene created by the frost on the trees. Frost everywhere. Pure white crystals of perfection cover every twig, every needle on every pine. Pure, splendid beauty.

Right after breakfast I pack a lunch, and we are out to explore. Snowshoeing opportunities are endless. Through the valleys, up the hills, to the top of the cliffs overlooking the big lake to the east. Then back down and around and through the valley back home to the tent. 

Away from everything … but luxuriously warm and comfortable … in the middle of nowhere.

Viki Mather has been commenting for Northern Life on the natural world and life in Greater Sudbury since the spring of 1984. Got a question or idea for Viki? Send an email to


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