Enjoying the greyest season Vancouver has to offer
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
“Winter camping.” The term can be terrifying to people with memories of soggy boots, numb fingers, and frozen granola bars. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Winter camping can be one of the most relaxing experiences a student can have after a long, grueling semester. The threat of being cold and wet fades quickly in a nice and cozy tent, and British Columbia can deliver some seriously incredible views basically anywhere you go. Here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of the greyest of Vancouver’s seasons.
Firstly, the gear. This won’t be summer in the Okanagan. A tarp and rope won’t cut it anymore—sleeping under the stars is a great way to drown when you live in British Columbia. Fortunately, this also won’t be winter in Iqaluit. A cheap tent is pretty much all you need, and will probably be the most expensive item. A rental or a tiny $50 thing from Sport Chek is plenty. The more pressing concern is in the clothing. The necessities are many thick socks, a windbreaker, and a toque. Jeans will suffice as pants so long as you have backups, and plenty of towels to dry off with. A tarp and rope would actually also be a good idea alongside all of this.
Secondly, location. This is BC’s great blessing. Manning Park and its surrounding mountains are absolutely choice options, and are usually guaranteed snow. The Lower Mainland is sprinkled with smaller camping sites along rivers and in forests, which are beautiful and relatively uncrowded, but rainy as all hell. The Nicomekl River in Langley and Surrey is one of the best of these lower ones, especially in terms of accessibility, being just a few minutes from the highway. Choosing your location will be up to availability more than anything else, so the sooner you book a site, the better.
Finally, entertainment. Pretty much everyone in Vancouver has fond camping memories of weed and booze in crowded, smoky tents. There’s no reason to throw those tried-and-true methods away—nothing keeps you warm like a shot of cheap vodka! Practice the old Vancouver traditions safely by enforcing strict boot-on-outside rules, because nothing kills a buzz faster than a wet sock or minor frostbite. Hikes and trails are also worth looking into, but most mountain paths are closed in heavier weather. Lower Mainland campsites usually have trails open year-round, so research what’s nearby before packing up and heading out.
The greatest advantage of camping is being away from the stress of the world, and being with familiar and comfortable people. Make full use of this after the stressful finals season by seeing more of this beautiful place we live in, and take a step back from it all. It’s worth it, risk of wet socks and all.