Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The snow is gone!

It is almost two weeks into February and green grass is all around. Only the artificial piles pushed from parking lots and driveways remain as a stalwart of the season that does not end until March 20. Temps in the mid 30s and 40s for going on 48 hours and rain Monday overnight eliminated the snowpack.

This leads to an odd scenario in backpacking. Wet and cold defines these periods. The weather is cold enough to warrant serious warmth layers but it is not cold enough where snow can be expected and softshell clothing can be relied on. Hardshell pieces, at least on the top, are all but required. BPL recetlty did an excellent piece did a comprehensive article on wet and cold backpacking (membership required), as the weather scenarios present tough challenges to backpackers - especially when the period of rain extends longer than 24 hours.

I haven't done a whole lot of walking in wet and cold - most have been cold and dry, warm and wet or warm and dry. Last April, however, I did venture up to Split Rock State Park for a weekend with my girlfriend - temps were forecasted in the mid 30s to 40s and rain and sleet.

My key? Take full rain gear, including low gaiters and shoes with waterproof/breathable liners - and take a shelter that you can cook in the vestibule or inside. Although we ended up hiking out Saturday afternoon (she was cold even after supper, bundled up and in a double bag with me), the trip was a success in understanding how to deal with wet and cold, not to mention hiking with a best friend.

On a final note, I have a monster head cold after sharing a tent last weekend with an ill staff member. I'm getting over it, but I went home from work today, took a nap and am plugging vitamin C and hot tea.

1 comment:

samh said...

No snow? Time to train for the ultra!