Winter Camping exists between the dichotomy of freezing and warmth. Everything freezes when it’s 20 below Celius: water, juice, fruit, toes, fingertips, bums. A fire, ablaze enough to be worthy of Dante, can provide warmth to make being out in this kind of cold tolerable.
But fires require a lot of work. Wood must be chopped, appropriately placed in a fire ring, and coaxed to provide such warmth. Then there’s another reward: the magic of light and mystery the fire provides.
On any other night, I would likely be in a warm house, under artificial light, with an additional blue box glow, blaring whatever is deemed tolerable white noise to accompany scrolling for more interesting things.
But out there, under a dark sky with a crescent moon bright enough to illuminate the snow covered ground, glowing embers below burning stalks that will eventually cascade into ash prove to be a superior antecedent.
Gathering around a fire feels natural, and ancient, perfunctory and healing. It’s aroma permeates everything you wear, maybe everything you are. Smoke takes on a temperament of it’s own, an assailant to eyes and nostrils. Yet still, you feel compelled to stay and watch what happens next as the wood continues to burn. Eventually you pull yourself away, with an illusion of comfort from the fire’s heat, and head to bed.
I slept in my Boondocking Rig, built in the back of my truck. After some jostling of a sleeping bag, duvet and other blankets, I settled in for the night, and became keenly aware of which parts of my body were not heated by the fire. Even with votive lanterns to take off the chill in my rig, my negligence made way for chills up and down my body. My toes and ass felt like ice and no amount coverings, rubbing or movement could make them feel warm. The cold air on my face startled away every hint of sleepiness I had felt in front of the fire.
I tossed, and turned, and repositioned trying to make my cold parts warm. Eventually, my body was able to redistribute some heat, and I slept. My blanket cocoon kept me warm and comfortable until sunrise.