Monday, February 16, 2009

In Pursuit of Snow

It is funny how I keep moving further south put then start spending more time seeking out snow in the winter. As my attitude towards outdoor activities has changes, and my personal life too, I have been seeking out more to do over the winter to stay active and fit. My summers lately have been filled with kayaking, some day hiking and a few backpacking trips. Since I don't have the equipment to kayak in the winter I have been turning more to hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing. But were is a person to go for snowshoeing in an area that rarely gets snow? Why West Virginia and Pennsylvania of course! So it was off to Pennsylvania this weekend to find some snow. Unfortunately the area had a warm spell over the last week and the 12 inch snow base out in PA had melted down to nothing. Sigh. Oh well. Winter hiking it was. I hadn't been feeling well over the last couple of days leading up to the hike and was barely eating this trip but I felt good and was able to still hike at my usual pace. I did discover that drinking on a really empty stomach results in almost instant drunkenness. Walking on rough trails while drunk without tying of boots is bad. Hilarity ensued as I had to be walked to the bathrooms to prevent falling into the cold water on the trails. Oh well. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

The mileage was kept low on this trip as we assumed we would be slogging our way through lots of snow. In the end, we were at camp early and had tons of fun sitting around, talking and playing Uno. Strip Uno was suggested but it was simply too cold. The shelters we stayed at were almost luxury on the trail. There was a real bathroom area (pit toilets), a wood pile provided, fire places at each shelter and a pump for water (potable). Each night was quite cold and I was playing with a 15 F bag. Unfortunately this bag doesn't do anything to keep me warm once the outside temperatures get below 24 F. It got below 24 F and I ended up having to switch bags with someone who had a -20 F bag and complaining they were too warm. I was much warmer after that. Time to get a better bag if I want to keep doing winter backpacking.

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