Winter camping is a wet, cold, somewhat masochistic activity, but it is a great way to clear your mind and wipe away any winter blues. Ever since my wet and windy adventure at the Parlee Brook Amphitheatre and Friar’s Nose Vicki wanted in on the action.
We had a few things to do so we didn’t leave the house until after lunch. After a quick stop in Fredericton we drove to Welsford. Our first stop was Welsford Falls. A very accessible and impressive waterfall. The problem is that it’s usually a little less accessible in the winter since the access road isn’t plowed.
If the snow had melted enough in the warm weather we would be able to drive up the access road. If not we would have an extra 2 km walk. That would mean we would be hiking up Mount Douglas Bald in the dark.
We came around the turn and saw that there was ice at the mouth of the access road but no snow. We turned onto the access road and were glad to see that the ice only covered the first section and the rest of the access road was clear.
After we parked I went to check out the deadwater above the road. I had never noticed it before. I had always being so focused on getting to the falls. It looked like a great place to return to with a canoe.
We started in the trail to the waterfall, trying not to step on the icy patches. When we came out of the woods near the top of the falls we met another couple taking pictures. After talking to them for a few minutes we continued down into the valley to the main falls. This was Vicki’s first time to the falls and she was impressed.
We used the rope to help us climb down into the valley below the falls. I got out the tripod and started taking pictures. This was the most water I had ever seen going over the falls. On other visits I could walk along the edge of the stream and get to the waterfall. This time the stream filled the valley.
Vicki explored the ravine below the falls while I tried different compositions. Eventually we took some selfies and climbed back up out of the valley. After stopping to take a few pictures of the upper falls we headed back to the car.
We went to the Irving gas station for gas and a romantic supper of hot dogs and pre-packaged salads. Vicki was still warm from our hike back up from the waterfall so she bought a small tub of ice cream. I thought it was an odd purchase since it was February and we were going winter camping, but I didn’t say anything.
We drove to the old construction site that now serves as a parking lot for the Mount Douglas Bald Trail. There was another car there and a couple starting into the trail. I guess we weren’t the only ones that wanted to catch the sunset from the peak. We ate our hotdogs and salad, and then packed the ice cream and our other supplies and started the climb.
The climb was strenuous with the extra weight of our packs. We weren’t in a hurry so we took our time. We passed the other couple on the trail just before we got to the top. They mentioned how windy it was at the top. We continued our climb and were soon at the base of the cliffs.
We climbed up to the peak to find that the other couple was right. It was windy at the top. We took a few pictures of the quickly setting sun and then we began our search for a campsite. We hoped the wooden platform was behind the peak enough to break the wind but that wasn’t the case.
We searched the woods around the edge of the peak until we found a small patch of green on a rock shelf the size of the tent. We climbed down below the cliffs to see if there was a better place but the wind was strong there. We returned to the site near the peak and put up the tent.
After the tent was setup we returned to the peak. After a few pictures the cold wind drove us back to the tent. We hung out in the tent for a couple of hours. We were going to eat the ice cream but the cold weather made it much less desireable. We decided to save the ice cream. Before we went to sleep I put the ice cream on a rock far from the tent. If animals wanted the ice cream I didn’t want them coming near the tent to get it.
We slept intermittently throughout the night. We were not really cold but we were cold enough to be uncomfortable. There was also a sound in the vestibule of the tent that seemed to get louder when we shut off the light. We figured it must be a mouse. All we could think about was our run in with a mouse on the Fundy Footpath. We were both tired and decided that we didn’t care if it was a mouse. So long as he wasn’t in the tent.
I set my alarm for 6am but was awake before that. I was hoping the wind would die down but it didn’t. I debated staying in bed vs. going out into the cold wind. I convinced myself that I didn’t come all this way to miss the sunrise.
I put on my socks and boots and tried to quietly climb out of the tent so I wouldn’t wake up Vicki. I succeeded in rolling around and making lots of noise until Vicki was awake.
When I finally got out of the tent I headed for the peak. I took several pictures of the lights of Welsford in the dark and waited. I waited for an hour for the sun to rise but all I saw was the landscape slowly getting brighter. The sun stayed behind the clouds. I kept myself busy taking pictures of every part of the peak and every angle of the valley below but the light stayed flat.
After another hour the wind once again drove me back to the tent. I didn’t want to wake Vicki so I tried to quietly sit on a rock and wait. After 10 minutes Vicki woke up. We decided to pack up the tent. After one more visit to the peak we started our climb back down to the car.
When we reached the warm car we finally decided it was time to eat the ice cream. When we opened the ice cream we were surprised to see that it had nearly melted. The wind was cold but the temperature had warmed up to about 0 degrees. We ate the ice cream for breakfast and then we were on our way.