Snowshoeing into Winter Camp



The key to Comfort in robe season is robes, of course! Bufflers, and plenty of them! Another thing is wool, and plenty of it! Seriously, you can be comfortable, period correct, and still be feminine. I have been in winter camps and hunts in deep snow with below zero temperatures with no discomfort, at least not enough that I'd let any of those men folk know about it!



Chris making French Dumplings


    Now those Native American women were climatized and Rocky Mountain tough. They wore no undergarments.  This is where I differ! I don't like to freeze my "arse," and having been high-centered in the snow a few times, I have come to appreciate a few items of my white trapper husband's clothing, slightly modified to fit, of course. A pair of woolen, or even heavy flannel drawers is worth triple its weight in gold come winter. Next are two undershirts of wool, either Guernsey frock style, which is supposedly similar to the Hensleys currently being made, or drop sleeve shirts with a button closure at the neck.  If wool is irritating to you, use flannel as the innermost garment, but wool is a must for the outer layer.  When its really windy or below zero I wear a wool scarf, which was mentioned by both Joe Meek and Warrin Ferris.


Jill-Note the Wool scarf on her neck.


As the pampered wife of a white trapper, these three articles of white man clothing, {drawers, shirt, hat}, can be justified, for there is documentation of a trapper, Joe Meek, offering some of his clothing to keep Mountain Lamb warm.  If she was like me, that was the last time he owned it! Just ask Crazy what happened to his bead collection! 

    Although it is generally believed that women did not wear hip length leggings, a Sioux woman showed me her long women's leggings for cold weather wear.  These are snug fitting and reach to the hip, just as a man's would. Hers were brain tan, but I made mine of heavy weight wool. Now one woman telling me about these doesn't convince me they were in common use, but I believe women then, doing men's activity such as winter hunting trips in deep snow, would have adapted their normal outfits for practical survival.

    My dress is Northern Plains style, made from a heavy wool blanket.  In spite of the wrist length, open sleeves, my arms stay surprisingly warm.  This dress is so warm it's like wearing a capote.  I also wear a scarf around my neck to conserve body heat. Next, the feet.  I have two pair of side seam, hair on, winter moccasins.  One is of buffalo, the other pair are deer.  These are coated well with a mix of bear grease and beeswax before each camp. I take both pair on extended camps so I'll always have a dry pair.  You can wear socks, but I've found with the deer hide mocs it isn't necessary.  I always take two pair of socks, though.  One for sleeping in and one for "just in case."  Some say deer hide mocs don't hold up, but I've put many miles on mine. The secret is to use a good hide for them.  These are by far my warmest mocs.  In deep snow I add on extra wool leg wraps to keep snow out of the moccasin tops and to keep my lower legs dry. These go to the knee and are held in place with long leather thongs.  I wear mittens made from a wool blanket with a wool gusset sewn in the seam so those winter winds can't find any place to creep in.  Bring a second pair to sleep in or in case the first ones get wet.


Chris taking it easy.

   Indian women did not wear capotes.  Instead, they used a blanket belted around the waist, which could also be blanket pinned at the neck to form a hood.  I use this mainly for inactive times or when the weather really drops low, as I find it a bit awkward on the trail. I like the blanket just as well as a man's capote, so this bit of history is easy to comply with, and Crazy gets to keep his capote.

          Our camp structure is a square canvas set up like a diamond fly shelter, with an extra piece of canvas across the front opening, for us ladies do need our privacy. This has the added advantage of keeping it about ten degrees warmer inside.  A piece of oilcloth makes the ground or snow cover, as the case may be.


                                                          Alice waking up with snow on her head

Now those Native Americans were rich in buffalo robes for one reason- robe season, of course! So why should I be any different!  Our bed consists of two buffalo robes and two or three blankets, depending on the temperature.  This along with a bed warmer.  No, not hot rocks, he's just hard headed like a rock! 

    Seriously, those mountain men give off a lot of body, heat, including hot air!  You'll probably need to sleep with your head under the covers for warmth, so I suggest keeping a fresh- air hole.  I sleep in all my clothes, wearing those dry socks, mittens, and sometimes the dry moccasins.  The main secret is, don't go to bed wet, and you'll stay warm!  I've been comfortable in camps at -20 with this arrangement.


Sitting around the fire getting warm and enjoying the company.

     Now for getting all this gear into camp, we use horses until the snow gets to deep and feed is scarce, then we use snowshoes and toboggans.

    I hope this has given you women some helpful ideas that you can use to make your cold weather outings comfortable.  Believe me, I'm not one them that handles cold well, so if I can do it, you can too!  Try it, you'll be surprised-you can survive.

WFT at Winter camp

    Oh, and the scenery you will enjoy!  The forest and the mountains take on a new beauty all wrapped in Mother Nature's blanket of snow, and you really feel one with nature, trying to survive in a winter wonderland.  There's something very spiritual out there, too, that I can't put into words-you just have to experience it for yourself!



                                                             Happy winter trails!



                                     By the way Girls--Look at what we had to help keep us warm at night.


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