Once before my brother and I had attempted snow camping. It was up in Leavenworth just past Christmas a few years back, and we had been abruptly reminded how unprepared we had been. We slept in a tent that time with no cots or Thermarest, no heating elements to keep us warm, and all around improper gear. It was definitely an experience that made us realize how important the right gear can be. The temperature low that night was 8 degrees Fahrenheit, with 12 degrees being the average. I was the only one with even a sleeping bag rated to zero degrees and I was still freezing! The snow below us (because we forgot a shovel and set up our tent on top of the snow) melted and refroze into a sheet of solid ice as we slept. Needless to say, we hadn’t had the desire to go snow camping again for a while.
This time around we would make snow camping a little easier on ourselves and sleep in the back of the truck. Of coarse the back of the truck gets almost just as cold as the tent since it isn’t sealed off and still allows the brisk night air to seep in. We also both had sleeping bags rated to zero degrees or below, thermals, and a heater buddy that we used for an hour or so before going to sleep. Even despite our extra warmth efforts, I still managed to get chilled in the middle of the night and early morning, which led to putting some hand warmers in my boots first thing in the A.M.
With Morning arriving and the preparation of hand warmers, waterproof everything, and extra thick gloves, we were ready to go on our short but scenic hike up to the Big Four Ice Caves. Around this time of year the “Caves” are more “Snow Piles” than anything since they are just now accumulating. In fact, all night we could hear small avalanches cascading down and piling snow into the areas of accumulation.
For such a short hike, the snow did create a little more of a workout than expected, and it yielded spectacular rewards that I think you’d agree would be difficult to find with the equivalent work put into it. Though the hike was on the mild side of the spectrum, I did notice a few difficulties that I ran into with my camera and photography. It was much more of a challenge keeping the elements away from my camera when the snow seemed to get everywhere. This made me realize that it could be crucial to bring some sort of waterproofing other than just the camera backpack with a waterproof cover on it that I currently have. I have really grown to enjoy my backpack camera case and will continue to use it, but I think I may add an actual waterproof cover for my camera itself when I am using it. I haven’t tried any of the camera covers yet and will be anxious to see how well it works. I’ll definitely keep you posted as to what I like and dislike about it.
The second camera trouble I ran into was with the freezing temperatures. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. I was worried about my cameras battery becoming to cold as well as the camera itself and possibly damaging it. I also noticed that every time I went to take a photo, my viewfinder would fog up. If anyone has any tips to avoid some of these issues, I would love to hear it!
Overall Big Four Ice Caves Trail is a great spot to take photos!