A Nice Cold Hike in the Valley

It was very cold when I left the house this morning. It was -14 Celsius, and with the wind chill it felt like 27 degrees below zero Celsius. Brrrr. I was bundled up though.

I wore track pants under my jeans, and a t-shirt covered with 2 thick sweaters, a new fleece jacket, and my pea coat - and my thick wool scarf and shearling hat to top it off.

My gloves kept my hands warm - and if anything I think I would have considered wearing thin cotton gloves beneath these, for when I needed to have my fingers free.

The snow was over a foot and more deep off the beaten track, and I suppose a pair of snowshoes might have been fun to use - as I post-holed all the way to my destination, all the way to my knees.

Head down, tramping through the snow, my eye caught a bright pink/red stain in the snow. Looking up, I saw bunches of bayberries dangling in the wind (see photos of the bright red, round berries). Full of pectin, and very tart, these make excellent preserves, and will augment other preserves. I plucked a few and kept them in my cheek sucking on them slowly - tart, sweet and delicious, with little seeds.

I walked off of the path and pushed my way up a slope to a high point looking over the creek below.

The pines clustered together, and it was underneath one that I stomped down the snow, set up my chair and began to boil my water. My butane/propane stove performed very poorly in this cold weather - and I actually had to heat the cannister itself to keep it going with an ethylene glycol burner I had picked up from Canadian Tire - a cheap emergency heater with a fiberglass wick.

Soon enough though I was able to make hot chocolate and add a couple of cups of boiling water to my freeze-dried beef and potato stew. This is actually pretty good and I'd recommend it to all. It wasn't spicy enough for me though.

I forgot to bring my spoon so I carved a basic spatula out of a branch. Wish I'd brought some pepper though - or even hot sauce.

I sat for an hour or so just relaxing and listening to the sounds of the wind and the outside. The wind was strong, even under my tree shelter. It got very cold and every time that I had to take off my gloves to adjust something or fiddle about, my fingers got very cold.

However, my body core temperature and head was very warm as I had lots of layers on - my legs stayed warm too, and my boots and wool socks were able to keep my feet toasty.

As the saying goes, "proper preparation produces perfect performance" and to this, I would have to make the following recommendations if I were to repeat this trek:

  • In very cold weather, bring only naphtha stove.
  • Bring spoon.
  • Make sure food has spices.
  • Bring extra cotton lining gloves.
  • Bring tarp in case the wind gets too strong.

Once I was ready and fed, I packed up. Instead of heading straight back, I took the long circular route through the woods back home - so I could get some exercise, and so I could just see some of the nature out there.

It was nice to come home though - I am struck by how much I take for granted the fact that we heat our whole homes with natural gas or electricity and seldom have a thought of what is involved in having to create a small fire and shelter to stay warm.

Good thing for this civilization thing. Sort of.



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