OK, before the first wise guy comments, I know winter is nearly over. I had considered writing this article in November, but I realized that it's too late at that point to prepare. You need to start now if you want to be ready for the next winter.
These are some basic steps to help you make it through the cold, dark months:
- Plan for the long haul. Assume you're going to be isolated, without chance of resupply, for at least 6 months. Sure, this may be more than enough even for the Canadians, but you shouldn't count on a normal winter pattern. Make sure you have enough food, water, heating supplies, sheltering material and entertainment (don't forget about mental health). Even if you over plan, you have left over stuff. That's certainly better than the alternative.
- Establish more than one location. That effort you did up in step 1, repeat it at least once more. The last thing you want is to be forced to abandon your shelter in the middle of sub-zero temperatures with no other place to go. This is a very real possibility: You could be attacked by others or maybe you just got careless and burnt your house down. Having the option may save you from risking your life unnecessarily.
- Do not reveal your presence. Smoke discipline is a year-round skill you probably have already mastered. Snow tracking, though, can trip you up. Try your hardest not to leave any tracks in the snow around your shelter. I realize that this might not always be possible. Judicious use of hedges can hide your trails in such cases. If that doesn't work, then go to the other extreme. Leave tracks all over to make it appear that large numbers of folks frequent the area.
There is no guarantee when it comes to winter. The meteorological gods may be against you such that no planning would suffice. However, if you think it through ahead of time, you can increase your odds.