The SheJumps Winter Camping Crew. Photo by Katie Bedigian
There is really nothing quite like getting a great group of women together to enjoy the beauty and challenges of the great outdoors! And that goal is what the non-profit SheJumps is all about. Its exciting to have the opportunity to share your strengths and passions with other females, and to learn from them as well. Since I learned about this great organization a couple years ago I’ve been a part of a number of different activities like the Passionately Pink Tour for the Cure, for which a group of women did an overnight tour to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Another one was (S)heJumps Into the Canyon, where we taught kids from a few Utah Boys and Girls Clubs how to ski at Alta Ski Area. Teaching kids to ski was new for me, but winter camping wasn’t. I’ve actually done quite a bit of winter camping, which is why I wanted to organize this event. The last time we got a big group of women winter camping for the Backcountry Tour for the Cure a couple years ago, we bit off a bit more than we could chew. This was a way to help us learn more. Before the Tour for the Cure, I was on Western State Mountain Rescue back at Western State College of Colorado where we did a good amount of winter camping. and in highschool I had my first winter camping experiences with an outdoor group called YETI (Youth Expeditions To Ignite). I figured if we want to get in the habit of organizing bigger backcountry expeditions, we better work on the basics!
I scoped our camping spot up Willow Heights in Big Cottonwood Canyon the day before we went, and knew we’d have a blast. Even though we were just under a mile off the road, we still had to pack our huge backpacks with food, water, cookware, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, clothing, and all the little amenities! So we were loaded down…and learning to correctly and comfortably pack a huge pack is a challenge in and of itself! Add to that being clipped in to skis on slushy snow, someone was bound to fall over. Thanks for taking one for the team Liz! We headed up in two groups, and by the time the second crew got there we had a bunch of tent platforms dug out, and Tess and Jae were killing it with our community fire pit seating area!
Everyone got their tents set up and we had quinoa cooking in a flash. Everyone was making hot drinks to keep warm, sitting by the fire, sharing stories, and laughing all the while. Not everyone knew one another to start, but by the next day we were all friends looking forward to the next adventure. Claire was good enough to prepare most of our food for the trip and we were all more than satisfied with our dinner of quinoa with kale, spices and yummy bratwurst! We also enjoyed some celebratory champagne in fancy plastic cups. We ladies know how to do it in style, but we also know that on a more serious expedition we’d have to leave the champagne behind. To top off our wonderful evening, our lone snowboarder Laura skinned into camp in a t-shirt at midnight pulling her belongings behind her on a bright orange saucer! She had more firewood so some of us just stayed up until it was almost gone. Claire and Laura took the challenge of sleeping under the stars which can be so beautiful and fun…but I guarantee they weren’t as toasty warm as I was!
For many of the ladies, this was their first winter camping experience. This trip was very focused on fun, but was good for learning as well. Katie learned to bring toe warmers for sleeping, and similarly Angeli learned that if you boil water, put it in your nalgene before bed and keep it by your femoral artery (between your thighs), it will keep your circulation moving (essentially keep you warm). I found I could use the hot nalgene for another purpose. If water freezes in the tube of my camelback I can wrap the tube around a Nalgene of hot water and it will thaw! Tess learned how to build a sweet fire ring amphitheater that perfectly fits 12 ladies, a kitchen, and raging fire. We all appreciated that!
When everyone woke up the next morning we enjoyed some tea and oatmeal, took some runs with Laura’s saucer, packed up our belongings, and filled in the areas we had dug out. We even packed out the firewood that hadn’t completely burned. Leave No Trace! What do you think is harder than skinning uphill with an enormous backpack? Trying to ski down in an aspen grove! Luckily we all made it back to our cars in one piece, excited for the next adventure. I hope next time we do this trip we’ll have even more fun ladies come along. If you’re interested, please get in touch with me! Ciao and happy camping!