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Backyard Snowtrekker Lessons

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  • #16
    One way to dial in a woodstove and all the accoutrements of a luxurious heated tent is to turn it into a home office of sorts. Each day I head out to the yard and fire up the stove for a few hours. Heating with a woodstove is new to me so I'm applying what I've watched and read about. It's more fun "doing" than watching.

    We finally have some snow to go with "winter" so the fly is getting some experience:


    I like working with my boots off and socks on:


    An inquisitive visitor. I left it a peanutbutter treat along with a snappy surprise:

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    • #17
      With 50 mph gusts predicted, I ended my 26-day practice session yesterday by striking the tent. While I felt certain the tent would handle the wind just fine, I asked myself, "Why push it? Save the strain for a real situation in the woods." We had thundersnow this evening with a particularly loud flash and crash.

      A few wrap-up notes from my backyard experience:

      1. If I worked in my tent for 6-7 hours, I burned through a Kwik Trip-sized bundle of wood so now I have a feel for how much wood to plan for on weekend outings. I will also start sourcing my own supply of wood going forward. Gas station wood costs add up fast. Any thoughts related to costs of equipment/tools for wood processing vs buying ready-to-go? I don't mind the body work-outs associated with processing enough wood for camping and hanging out in the backyard for a month or so each winter so I'm more interested in the dollar discussion.

      2. I learned a ton about the relationship between the stove pipe damper and the air intake openings on the stove door. Having a stove pipe thermometer made a nice visual tool to use along with how warm or cool the air felt. My Kni-Co Alaskan does not have a false bottom or a baffle so I'll have to consider those options for the future.

      3. A Voda fan is very useful in a backyard/home-use scenario - but is too heavy and fragile to haul into the woods.

      4. I struggled with the stove pipe damper. When I wanted it open, it would close and when I wanted it closed, it would open. The butterfly spun too freely on its axis. I can think of two solutions: a) stretch the spring on the handle a bit to create more tension, or 2) dig down into the ground so that the stove sits lower in the tent to allow the first section coming out of the stove to be the straight section with the damper. Perhaps the damper would behave better in a vertical position as opposed to sitting on an angle. My recent set-up had the elbow section as the first section out from the stove and the damper section was second and thus was on an angle. Any advice?

      5. I trapped a mouse who was exploring the inside of the tent. Question: Do baited traps attract rodents thus becoming a self-fulfilling situation or is it better to hope they won't take up residence because there is no food to eat?

      5. During week days when on a video call, my colleagues enjoyed asking me about working in a tent. Lots of lively discussion when it was -17° F and I was basking in the heat of a woodstove. I always had a teapot on for hot chocolate and other snacks and lunches that could be warmed up. Tending the fire or prepping the next fire kept me occupied between gaps in the work flow.

      Thanks for reading and for adding any comments and suggestions. I'll definitely do this each winter as it cures a bit of the cabin fever. The past 30 days' weather was very stable - no rain, about 6 inches of snow, and steady cold temps below freezing with one day at -17°. The next week will have big temperature swings between 50° and below zero nights.

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      • #18
        Good call on pulling her down in the 50 mph winds. I don't know where you live but in MN yesterday the wind tore the Christmas lights of the tree in front yard. I learned a lot from this post, thanks for sharing!

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        • #19
          Nice, a twenty-six testing period is good.

          1. The biggest issue will be what type of wood you are burning. Was the Kwik-Trip stuff a hardwood? I can see it lasting all day then. You won't be able to find hardwood much in certain places, the the BWCA. There it is only/mostly pine and that stuff can burn real quick. Might go through 2 or 4 of the gas station sized bundles in a day, depending on temperature and wind.

          2. I would suggest at the very least to get a false bottom sooner then later. Really helps with the long term survivability of the stove.

          4. I have had that same issue with the dampener. I disassembled it and stretched the spring a bit, just like you were thinking. Seems to have done the trick. I have also set up the stove with the elbow first then then length with the dampener and vice versa, all depending on snow depth. I haven't really seen any difference. My own preference is to start with the stove length first then the elbow, but I don't think it really matters.

          5. Backyard critters might be more numerous then backcountry critters. Setting up for 26 days and having a warm place probably did more to attract critters then food did. I the woods I have never had a problem with mice or voles getting in the tent. But I do make certain that my food is in some container that mice can't gnaw their way through.

          5. Sounds luxurious, and welcome to being known as that guy who is nuts and goes camping in winter.

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          • #20
            The emerald ash borer has made ash firewood bundles at Kwik Trip gas stations the predominant species. City forestry crews all across WI are cleaning out dead, dying ash trees each year.

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            • #21
              I set up the Snowtrekker shortwall for a few days this week so that I could try out a new stove (steel Four Dog) in terms of fit and assembly, etc. I'll wait for cooler weather in the fall to burn-in the stove. In the meantime, I'm going to build a ground-level platform so that I'm off the ground year round. I've got the extra lumber laying around so the only costs should be whatever hardware I use and possibly some concrete foundation blocks.

              My unanticipated surprises associated with a summertime setup were 1) the purple bird droppings that were bombed down onto white canvas - evidently the mulberry trees are ripe, and 2) ants...hundreds upon hundreds...on the outside of the tent. I closed the vent holes and kept the door zipped so they didn't hang out inside.

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