Contrary to my typical tent camping excursions no matter the weather, I upgraded to an off-grid treehouse with no electricity nor water, but with a propane heater! My partner and I celebrated a white Christmas in the woods outside of the North Cascades. Our treehouse yurt featured a 360 degree view with windows overlooking a stream, waterfall and woods covered in pillowy snow. It was magical. And the constant sound of rushing water made me have to pee in the downstairs outhouse more than I preferred!
While I had a heater, surrounding walls to protect me, and full access to my vehicle, I still took necessary precaution with vacationing in the North Cascades in winter. Here are some of the ways I came prepared:
- Check the weather daily and check for road closures and conditions
- I checked the weekly forecast on the weather app on my phone daily a week leading up to my trip. As it got closer and closer to my departure date, it was apparent that temperatures were becoming colder than previously predicted so this allowed me to prepare and bring more layers than originally intended. As well, I also was aware that a winter storm warning was going to do into affect the 2 prior days leading up to my departure and how that could affect my drive time.
- Road conditions: I checked in with my airbnb hosts the day before departure to inquire about town road and driveway conditions. At first it did not sound promising that the steep driveway would be plowed (it did end up getting plowed thankfully!!) so I picked up a set of snow tire chains to have as a backup.
- Road closures: I checked on the National Park Service website to see the road closures in the North Cascades NP to help plan my trip. I made note of where the highway closed and where avalanche warnings were predicted. Although we ended up staying closer to our airbnb 30 min outside of the National Park, I am glad we went prepared for any type of adventure.
- You can check out avalanche conditions in the Pacific Northwest here
- Meal planning
- I not only planned out every meal and snack we would be eating, I doubled how many grains and beans I brought to make sure we had enough food if we were extra hungry or got stuck in our airbnb due to weather conditions for an unforeseen reason
- Alongside extra food and snacks, I packed 2 cases of juice boxes in case we got stuck or in case I had one of those freak diabetes days where my blood sugar struggles to recover after activity (or lack there of)
- Along with meal prepping, I always bring a backup meal in case my stomach is feeling upset. For me, this looks like a packet of yellow rice. I never know how my body is going to react to travel and change in activity/routine, so I try to always bring this small packaged meal just in case.
- I not only fill all of my water bottles I am bringing prior to departure, I also bring a water jug. This was especially important for this trip since my airbnb did not have running water. I ended up bringing 2 water jugs since both my partner and I have one we keep in our cars as backup.
- I also brought an insulated water bottle (or thermos) that I did not drink the entire time. This was my backup in case the water in the water jugs and bottles froze, I would still have drinking water.
- Layers and blankets
- My trick to bringing enough layers is to have a dedicated pair of socks and a sweater/hoodie/jacket that is only worn in the tent or at the airbnb. This ensures I will always have a comfortable outfit while not doing any physical activity; I will have extra layers to wear at night and in the mornings when it is chillier; and if anything happens to my day gear (wet or torn or lost), I have backups at my home base.
- This airbnb had a queen sized mattress in the loft without bedding. We brought a set of sheets and a large fleece blanket as the main bedding. To couple that, we brought 2 extra blankets that only covered half of the bed and my zero degree sleeping bag as the ultimate back up. We ended up sleeping overheated and were thankful for the loft sleeping space! (the downstairs main area was quite cold, especially on the toes!)
I hope this basic accumulation of tips for winter adventuring reminds you to be over-prepared and to remember that adventuring is possible in all seasons, but it will look different in all seasons.