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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I might share a few pics with you all of my shelter that I built on my December camping trip.

This was mine and my brother's and a friend of ours' home for a wee during the winter solstice.

Night time temperatures were 9 to 12 degrees F

We were quite comfortable. The construction of the shelter was done using as you can see sticks with a bit of forest floor insulation on the outside. The desigh was a square formed by four lean-toos with an opening at the top for smoke ventilation as we had a fire inside.

The bottoms of the lean-tos were lined with first large black plastic bags cut open into sheets of plastic for waterproofing and additional insulation. There was an additional layer below that, facing the fire, made from emergency blankets for additional waterproofing and to reflect the heat from the fire back into the hut to maximize temperatures inside the hut.

The support structure of the hut was built by lashing branches together with 113 pound catfish string/line that I weave into survival bracelets.

The insulating trash bags we secured using zip ties, and the emergency blankets we secured onto the plastic bags using duct tape.

On the coldest night when it was 9F out side, inside the hut with the fire going it was around 51 degrees under the lean-to temp recorded facing away from the fire with me blocking direct heat from it.

We got there late on the first day and had to devote what we had left of our daylight to constructing the shelter. So we were only able to obtain a very minimal amount of fire wood. As we all fell asleep the first night the fire eventual died and the temperature fell in the hut to around 29 f and had been that temp for a little while with temp outside being at around 16F But we were warm enough in our sleeping bags.

On the second day we devoted our few hours of sunlight, winter solstice, to gathering firewood. This we did with outstanding efficiency. We found a good hard wood tree that had fallen across a deep trench and was therefore suspended from the damp ground and was very dry and well cured. We harvested much of this tree with a 4 ½ pound axe with a 2 foot handle. I split some of the wood using my Smith and Wesson Search and Rescue survival knife. In this process we were able to quickly determine that a saber saw ( a chain saw with a handle at each end), was not very effective for completing tasks quickly. Sectioning the wood with the axe was far superior and surprisingly required less effort.

With our vibrant supply of fire wood we were quite comfortable for the rest of the trip. The second night it started raining at dusk and as soon as the sun went down this rain turned to sleet and then ice pellets. This proved that our waterproofing of the shelter had been effective as we stayed nicely dry the entire trip.

We were high in the mountains so initial we were concerned with water access due to being isolated from the ponds of the lower lands. We came into luck as we found a small spring about 100 yards from the camp site. Using the water filter initial seemed as though it would be difficult because there was no water depth to submerge the inlet. I solved this problem by hollowing out a depression, and then fashioning a bowl from aluminum foil to reduce debris at the inlet, keeping my filter clean. This became an effective source for water that sustained us for the duration of our stay.

We had brought with us some meager food rations of oatmeal, just add water corn bread, just add water cheese biscuits, just add water cheddar broccoli soup, trail mix, and hot coco. We were acceptably sustained on these provisions. He had an opportunity to harvest some wild game. On the first night at around 12:30am we heard something coming through the woods. I rose from within the shelter with my Ar15 using the weapon light to determine what it was. Turns out it was a large doe (deer) that ran up to about 10 feet away from the shelter and she stoped as soon as she saw my light. She stood there for a few seconds while we debated rather or not to take her.

We decide to let her go for several reasons. 1. It is not legal in Tennessee to hunt deer at night. 2. It was cold and we didn’t feel like having to dress her. 3. We didn’t want to fight off coyotes for a whole week protecting the carcass. So we passed up a week of good eating. Rightly so I think because we didn’t really need to kill her to survive.

Each night at around 3am we would hear the coyotes wake from their dens and begin howling signaling the beginning of their hunts. We had positioned our selves close to a know are of coyote dens a mere 200 yards or so away form us, as our initial intention was coyote hunting, though the short days and the need for work to maintain our campsite made that reality not so real.
But we were never in any danger from the coyotes. The closest they ever came to the camp was around 150 yards away when we heard them howling an fighting amongst each other, and then we could hear them moving away form us. None the less we were safe from them within out hut. The corners we closed off by debris. And also I had woven some limbs together and covered them with a sheet of plastic to form a door at the entry of the hut. So we were well isolated from the wildlife.

All in all it was a great and successful camping trip. We were able to comfortably survive in the absolute harshest conditions that we have here in East Tennessee in the coldest winter we had in decades.

Hope you all enjoyed the story. Feel free to ask any questions you have. It was a long week and we did a lot so I omitted a great deal.


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I'd be careful going back to that thing after leaving it alone for awhile. I would imagine that there will be some creepy crawlies who view that place as the Creepy Crawly Hilton.
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