2-7-19: Cold Camping

Drove into Mt Rainier NP (natl park): the West entrance is the only access in winter. Was going to park where I did last year, above Narada Falls, and shoot Paradise Creek and area again, but the wide area I used for parking is now marked with several “No Parking” signs – it must be for snowplow turn-around. I don’t have a photo to show, but they keep the roads plowed, with vertical walls of snow on either side up to 6′ tall: the shoulder gets plowed in only a few spots, so parking is very limited.
Found a wide spot in the road between the falls and the large area I used last time: would be a long hike to the creek, but I decided to go anyway – hoping to shoot the creek, but not really intending to go to the same spot I did last year. Snowshoed for about an hour. Blue sky and a few whispy clouds made for beautiful scenes, and I got some great shots. 
Sunset yesterday put a golden glow on the nearby mountains (don’t know about Rainier), and I’m praying for a similar show on the mountain this evening. And, I’m also hoping and praying for some drama (clouds, etc.) as the snow moves in Friday morning. Correction: the forecast now calls for snow starting around noon tomorrow (Fri). There could still be some good cloud action early Fri as it moves in – I should plan on staying up there (top of Copper Creek Rd) until it clouds over.
So, camping there tonight would be far better and safer than driving back and forth in the dark, and I need to try out my sleeping setup anyway. I can’t go home without having done it at least once, and I may do it more this trip, depending on the need and practicality.
The back of the truck is well organized, but optimized for storage: to carry everything I could possibly need for wilderness travel and survival. What that leaves for a sleeping area is quite small, however: approx 30″ wide, 28″ high, and 6′ long (I’m 5’11” tall). It’s not enough space to even sit up in: OK for sleeping in an emergency, but not comfortable enough to use regularly. I knew this from the beginning, but had to try it out.

I had views to the east and the west, and they were stunning!!

I had not opened the sleeping pad until now, at 32°, and learned that the instructions called for warmer temps for the first-time setup. I could not get it to self-inflate, nor inflate when I used the little inflater gadget that there were no instructions for. So, my sleeping pad amounted to maybe 1/4″ of rubber – no air, and not comfortable at all. Sleeping in the camper may have been OK with the pad, but was miserable without. The sleeping bag was quite warm, but my toes were painfully cold for most of the night. I opened some chemical hand warmers and put them at my feet: I could feel the heat (almost too hot) for awhile, but overall did not do much good and put off an obnoxious chemical odor.
I survived the night (got down to 20°), but this experiment proved that I need to make some changes before the next expedition.

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