I got back to Serenity Valley after being away for over a week. Returning to my property after a long-ish absence is always exciting, because I never know what to expect. I knew there was a winter storm that passed through the area a week ago, so my biggest concern was snow covering the dirt road and making it impassable.
Indeed, when I arrived at the dirt road, the thick layer of snow did concern me somewhat, but aside from a little slippage, my car was able to make it up without problems. In fact, with the snow smoothing over the bumps and muffling all sounds, it almost felt like I was in a magical self-powered sled, gliding through a winter wonder woodland. The biggest obstacles I faced were a couple of padlocks that had frozen shut, though heating them up with a lighter seemed to do the trick.
My camp seemed to be ok, other than the fluffy blanket of snow. Though, upon closer examination, I noticed that my tent had collapsed. My ladder, which had been propped up against Hut 2.1, just yards away from my tent, had toppled over, possibly squishing the tent. Though, the tent was also under a lot of heavy snow, some of which might’ve fallen off the roof of Hut 2.1, so who knows what happened there. I had all my bedding in the tent, but fortunately it was all still dry.
The temperature got down into the single digits (Fahrenheit) and below last week, so basically all my liquids have frozen solid. My 7 gallon water containers have turned into big balls of ice. My olive oil is a solid, and even the vegetable oil turned into sludge. A bottle of cranberry juice I’d left in my hut also froze, and since sugar water has a much lower freezing point than pure water, that gives you an idea of how cold it got. To make liquid water, I had to pull out my “emergency” stash of bottled water I keep in my car, and boil it, then pour it into my frozen water containers to thaw some of it. Last night, I put some hot water in an empty plastic water bottle and stuck it in my bed, partially to help heat up my blankets, but mostly to ensure I had liquid water in the morning since, otherwise, all my liquid water would freeze overnight. I considered melting snow, but who knows what kind of contaminants are in there. Electronics aren’t impervious to cold either. Batteries tend to not work as effectively in the cold, and chargers often will refuse to charge batteries that are cold. My power tool batteries will also be sleeping with me at night.
I have plenty of warm clothes, and a high metabolism that generates ample body heat, so I generally don’t mind the cold. In fact, I feel livelier in the cold than in oppressive heat, and I just love snow. After I had my morning coffee, I went for a walk through the snow, following deer and rabbit tracks all over the woods. When I was a kid, I noticed how grown-ups seemed to think of snow as an inconvenience and hazard, while kids universally loved snow. I promised myself that I would never be the kind of boring and joyless grown-up who didn’t appreciate snow. I think I’ve done ok so far.
Temperatures this week are supposed to be warmer, with highs above freezing (albeit by only a few degrees), and lows of around 20F. But it’s supposed to snow for the next several days, so I decided to come back out to town to stock up on supplies, just in case I get snowed in. I’ve got 2-3 weeks worth of propane, and ample food, so I should be fine. I’ll just keep working on Hut 2.0, which is sufficiently covered at this point, that I can keep working on it through snow.
R: Great post. It feels warm and personal despite the content of wintery subject matter. I noticed you spoke in the first person singular. Are you working alone again?
Yep, Kelly went back to Chicago to see her family, before continuing in her journeys (last I heard, she was headed somewhere warm :-). So it’s just me again.
Glad to hear nothing worse than a collapsed tent and frozen water resulted from the storm, I actually found myself out in the backyard playing wiht my son at a mere 32 F yesterday and for whatever reason Ryo, you popped to mind, and I was wondering how well you would handle the cold.
Looks like as long as you have food to keep that metabolism stoked, you’ll be fine.
Be good and continued good luck, thanks for the update.
I’m doing something similar outside termo california with an old school bus/rv and an ambulance (bus for habitation,ambulance for power and coms . So far I’ve cut most of my road.
I’m older slower and fatter so I move more slowly. So I’m wintering in westwood ca.
If you need help or need access to a chop saw, lathe or welder I’d be willing to let you (and even help you find your fingers or put out the fire if you screw up) I’ve got a small shop in the garage.
If you are close enough that these offers have any meaning (the sierras are a big place) let me know.