Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Race to 100

We're feeling the pressure now. The thought that our ultimate goal of 100 hiking miles for 2010 may not exactly be met is bouncing around in our minds. To date, I have 28 miles left - Tim has 30. During a warm month graced with 15 hours of sun, this would be possible. But the reality is, it's cold. Really cold. And our usable daylight hours total 9 hours at best.

Our itinerary for this weekend started out with two days of hiking, but Mother Nature decided Saturday was a great day for staying in out of the rain. Our Sunday forecast optimistically suggests a high of 36 with snow flurries in the morning and mostly cloudy skies to grace our daylight hours.

With 20 days until Christmas and 26 days until the hiking odometer is scheduled to reset, we are left with these last four weekends to get our miles in. I would like to say that I'm certain we'll reach our goal, but the practicality gene in me preaches otherwise. But it's not going to keep us from trying!

And since we won't be letting Jack Frost keep us indoors this morning, it's a good time to go over a couple cold-weather hiking tips:

1. LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS! - I cannot stress anymore how important this is. I tend to be old-fashioned and prefer a base layer of thermal, followed by a thin long-sleeved shirt, then maybe even a wool sweater and a coat. If you really feel you'd be better prepared, then spend the money on some of those "newfangled" synthetic clothing. I happen to prefer wool as an outer shell, followed by a goose-down coat. Wool is good because it fends off outer moisture (like snow flakes!) and keeps you toasty warm. I also like a hat, two pairs of socks - thermal socks underneath if you've got them! - and a good pair of gloves. In my opinion, layering is most important not to keep you extra warm, but to allow you to strip as you get warmed up. Moisture underneath (caused by sweating) can lead to hypothermia later. Don't risk it! Take the time to remove layers as you warm up, and put them back on if you cool again.

2. BE PREPARED! - Mother Nature is unpredictable. In my daypack - 2L water bladder, Hot Hands hand warmers, an emergency blanket, a candle, a lighter, waterproof matches, a small flashlight, a whistle, a pocket knife, basic first aid, map, some snacks, a rain poncho, and my GoGirl (a necessity for hiking women all over the world!). Tim usually carries a ham radio and a gps on his pack - I usually have my cellphone, too.

3. KNOW THE TRAIL!! - Or at least have researched it/have a map. Snowy/Icy conditions may require ice cleats. If your trail follows a creek, you don't want your feet wet in the winter. Know if or how you'll have to cross to avoid this. I have, in the past, had to wade in the creek to cross after heavy winter rains. In this case, I usually have extra socks and will remove my boots to cross sock-footed. Then I promptly change from the wet socks to the dry and replace my boots.

4. FLIGHT PLAN!! - Above all else, notify someone of where you'll be going and when to expect you back, even on a small morning hike!

Hope you're enjoying the fresh, icy-cold, morning air as much as we are!

Happy Trails,
Robin & Tim