OK, done deal.
The weather worked out for me in that odd backwards way. The temps in Pristina which is at 1790 feet was high 26 and low -3, my starting point for the mini trek was just about 3800 feet and my camp site was a bit higher so we can assume it was a little colder up there. I purposely bought a little thermometer and promptly forgot it.
OK off and running. I had to work 1/2 a day on Saturday but was off Monday. When I got off Saturday I went home, grabbed my bag, snagged my partner, kissed Mrs BD and hit the road about 3 in the afternoon.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW BUG OUT GETAWAY VIDEO.
Drove to the closest mountain and hit a logging road. Since it was getting a bit late when I got up there a ways and the sun was going to be down soon figured that was good enough for the day. Found a good cut out pointing the direction I would have to go and then threw out my tent and crashed. As a note when I do these drills I have a 25 watt solar panel in the truck in case my battery goes flat, because no one is going to wander past in the winter. In a jam I could have put on chains and gone a lot farther, but what didn't. This road has some fairly deep ruts that you can't really see in the snow and didn't want to turn a fun drill into a real life CF.
The next morning had a nice MRE breakfast tossed the tent in the truck and hit the road. What I wore was a pair of Mammut Champ pants, wool t-shit, wool sweater, REI Expedition socks, Ratty Patagonia DAS parka (The nice thing about the DAS Parka are 2 the internal mesh pockets. They are large enough to keep a liter of water in so it doesn't freeze or a pair of mitts in to dry), surplus Swiss gaiters, Bates Tora Bora boots, wool mitts, OR gortex mitt shells, cap and for the first real test a pair of 5 toe Iniji sock liners which really worked out well to my surprise. Along for the ride was my most favorite pack configured for winter running, a knife with a fire steel, tinder capsule, emergency water bag and water tabs stuffed into the sheath and my "possibles" hip bag. Around my neck is a lighter on a cord. Packed are a pair of long john bottoms (that I never used), spare socks and my many years old indestructible Marmot Alpinist Gore-tex Parka.
After breakfast my fat headed mutt and I hit the trail. The going soon got pretty steep and the old guy was puffing a bit, the good girl was laughing. Round trip was a little over 8 miles half of which was up a pretty much steep slope. Yeah I could have gone farther but didn't. Really didn't want to go above the tree line where the snow was going to be too deep for my good dog to work through or too close to a village. I can strap on a pair of snow shoes, fat head can't.
First water resupply, cold and clear but still ran it through a Katadyn Pocket filter and then pumped the filter dry so the ceramic element would not crack, it didn't.
We finally pulled in to a ridge that seemed to have a abundance of fire wood which wood prove handy, wood cutters leave scattered areas of their left overs that I am always happy to use. My goal was to find a place with a spring. There are many out there but I failed to find one this go.
After the quick snack it was time to get going with camp chores at least for half the team.
Collected enough fire wood to carry through the next morning pack out. I used a Laplander saw which is quite a nice piece of gear. Light weight and doesn't take up a lot of room. In the pic are a pair of Ortovox wool mitts which are worth their weight in gold.
After collecting wood I built a "self feeding" fire. In a nut shell you criss cross your wood building a platform and start the fire on top. The fire will then burn down and out for a slow controlled burn. It takes a little extra time to build but will then burn for quite a while with out diddling with so you can do other chores and still have a finger warming fire at your disposal. This fire worked just OK this time out, the wood was very wet and very frozen.
Lit it off with some birch bark and a ferro rod. If you happen to have the real papery birch bark you are good to go, that stuff will take a spark like crazy. What I had didn't have much in the way of the papery stuff so this is what I did. I had two pretty fair pieces of the bark, I scraped the first piece until I had collected as much of the curry cues and birch "dust" and saved it on a piece of leather. I then scraped the second piece until I had a fair pile of shavings. I put all this mess of scrapings and dust onto a piece of the bark and sparked it off, placed it on top of the fire and stuck the second piece of bark on the now burning first piece. Sorry there are not more pic of this, sometimes I get wrapped up in the doing and forget to take them.
Anyway I got the fire started, this is good. Cooked up a nice dinner of trail food.
I carry PJ cotton but as often as I can like to use natural items. To this end I keep a aluminum box of good stuff I pass by from day to day, thistle down, birch bark, some recently discovered fat wood and other goodies. In the metal tin is char cloth. If you are using natural fire starting items you really have to start planning your next fire before you need it and pick up any goodies you pass by.
As it was a dry camp it was time to start making water, for this I started with a steel bottle but soon after added a pot. The snow was dry and glandular so it took a bit of effort and time to make enough, scooping it up also made my fingers chilly. A couple of times during the evening I caught a chill and started to shiver but nothing a few squats and push ups didn't solve.
Strung up a tarp as a wind break. In this weather using good knots is a plus for construction and take down, for this exercise as pretty much always I used a Siberian hitch as a anchor and a truckers hitch to tension the line along with a couple of mini carabiners on prussic knots.
As a sleeping system I used my most wonderful Western Mountaineering Antelope, a Wiggy's ground mat and my cold weather favorite a reindeer hide stuffed into a Integral Designs bivi bag. Later that night my little sweet pea had had enough and crawled into the bivy with me. There was plenty of room for her to curl up at the head of the bag just under the hood. I have done this before with my last dog but this is a first for this one so I figure it got a bit cold or she just didn't like the blowing snow. A pee bottle is mandatory in this dog/man configuration.
Before hitting the hay I knocked over the fire and reconfigured it as a long fire with some longer wood that I had cut for this purpose. This greatly aided in stripping down, doing a few squats to get the blood flowing, stuffing my cloths into a Seal Line bag and crawling the the sac. Ended up being just as snug as a bug, if nothing else the WM bag works fine at below it's advertised temp rating.
The next morning jumped out of the sac and into my cloths, kicked the fire back to life, had a little breaky of Enertia Trail Foods and started the pack up. The pack up like everything in the cold took longer than usual, stuffing the sleeping back, tarp and bivy back into their sacks just took a while, tough to do in mitts so had to warm my fingers from time to time. The knots used to rig the tarp popped right out, just like they should. Untying knots at 0 or below sucks for real.
Stopped long the way for a snack and to monitor for critical intel (AKA The Armed Forces Radio Network) with my wee Yaesu radio and a field expedient antenna.
Got back to the truck and it fired up AOK, cranked up the heater and started the journey home.
Hope you all enjoyed, cause I sure did. Have fun out there and be safe.