Tag Archives: quinzee

Syrup of the Smokey House

As someone who hasn’t lived in the state of Vermont for long, being outdoors and disconnected from the city life and rush of Florida and Chicago is quite a refresher. Coming to Smokey House Tutorial Center my first time is equivalent to experiencing your first Christmas as a child. Being so far away from civilization has a charm that I can’t quite describe. The air, ambience, peacefulness, and environment here is like nothing I’ve experienced. On my first day we took a tour trudging through and viewing snow covered gardens, maple sap tanks as well as the farm store.


I also had the pleasure of viewing things that the other groups had been up to such as the quinzees that the students had built, which are essentially igloos but instead of ice it is snow that is made into a big pile and left to freeze, then is dug out, on the frozen pond a week prior to my arrival. If you’re a outdoors person or just enjoy a change from time to time then I heartily recommend that you look into the Smokey House Tutorial Center. Here you will get a chance to tap maple trees, learn survival skills and experience learning from a different point of view with more hands on work and the luxury of doing more out of the classroom work. In any case, the Smokey House Tutorial Center is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn some valuable information that I wouldn’t pass up for the world.



Quinzee is a shimg_9253elter that you make out of snow that you dig out the center of. Native American tribes made them so that they could keep shelter from the cold.

We are making it with snow and digging the quinzee out. We are making it on the ice so it is easier to get the snow. We shoveled snow into a big pile. It’s huge, about six feet in diameter, volcano made out of snow. It took us about an hour to build the snow up. It is going to sinter (compress) so it doesn’t collapse.

img_9278We then dig it out. We are going to put sticks in the top to see how deep we dig out the top of it. The entrance is going to be away from the wind so the wind doesn’t blow in and make it colder inside the quinzee.

Looking Back

Looking back at all the cool things that we did here I picked my favorite top five highlights from this semester.

• We made a snow shelter called a quinzee.
• We made a trail around our pond that loops around the pond.
• We went sledding at the tree farm down the road.
• We made a really nice coat rack out of honey suckle and oiled it up to polish it.
• We made shelters in the woods out of just trees and branches.
TTC Quinzee4 copyIMG_7523

What is a Quinzee?

After Saturday’s snowfall we have about 8 or 9 inches on the ground, although it is very drifted now.IMG_7513

Step 1) Make a BIG pile of snow.

Step 2) Wait. Maybe a couple of hours. Until after lunch at least.

Step 3) Hollow it out.

Step 4) Move in.

Quinzees are magic. Piling up the loose snow allows the ice crystals to realign and bond together so that the loose, slippery snow becomes capable of holding a shape and supporting its own weight. It is a lot of work and we haven’t finished, but we have a good start. Actually I really shouldn’t say “we” since my contribution has been minimal. But Juanita, Kieghan, and Dillon went back out and began the hollowing out process. Cold, they reported back.IMG_7539