Took a six-mile hike with the southeastern chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) on Sunday morning. It was eighteen degrees at the start, and two hours later the temperature reached an astonishing high of twenty-one. It was cold!
As I drove into the Houghton’s Pond parking lot of the Blue Hills Reservation, hikers were stamping their feet, pulling down their knit hats, and slapping their gloved hands to keep warm. Once we got hiking, we were less distracted by the cold. We all took short, quick steps, and I pulled my shell hood up over my hat.
Although there wasn’t any snow, this was, indeed, a winter hike. And I made one mistake. I didn’t prepare my water bottle properly. I simply filled it and let it hang, uncovered. It froze and I had to bang it against tree trunks to free up the ice and suck down the liquid of life. I hadn’t remembered what I’d learned in the AMC’s winter hiking workshop. Pack your water in a cozy; use a wide mouth bottle, not the skinny-necked bottle I had. And it helps to fill the bottle with warmish water. I had done none of these things and would have encountered problems on an extended hike.
We took an easy trail and finished ahead of schedule. I dressed in layers and felt comfortable most of the time. If I had worked up a sweat, I would have removed my fleece vest and yanked off my hood. One thing I did remember to do was to pre-cut my snacks into bite sized chunks and have them readily available in plastic baggies. I saw one hiker remove his gloves and struggle to tear open a Power Bar. I watched a woman fuss around as she tried to open zipped pockets with her gloves on. I’d made sure I had long ties on my zippers so I could pull them while wearing gloves.
See the picture with the log-branch? It lay right in the middle of the trail. We all tried to move it to the side, but it wouldn’t budge! Just like nature–tough, unrelenting. But this was a nice hike with good people, all out for exercise and camaraderie.