The rules of backpacking in winter are simple, and with a few exceptions no more complex in the following than summer. Things like don’t fall in the creek, try to not sweat, pitch your shelter well, plan ahead on water.
Applying them does end up being tough, especially on the first proper snow trip of the year. All three of us forgot skin wax, for example, as well as did a certain amount of Dyna-fumbling, and were reminded that plastic boots are different than 10 oz trail shoes (particularly when you have to walk 4 miles to find skinnable snow).
Everyone also got wet, though when you’re trudging uphill in a 30 degree, high-humidity snowstorm that’s hard to avoid.
Eventually, after a long night of hanging around the fire and sleeping for 11 hours, we went skiing. And it was good. Almost very good by any standard, and certainly very good for early in a winter which has thus far declined to be patterned. Next time I’ll remember to charge my battery and have more to show for it.
Getting out in December can be a battle, mostly of your own wills. It’s dark for long, it’s often cold, the snow is usually shallow and often unstable or just weird. Getting used to hauling a good deal of extra stuff on your back and feet makes the diffident choice moreso. But the rewards are sweet. Our destination this weekend is in August a fished-out mod seen with dozens of pack stock stirring dust each hour, morning and evening. Once up we had ourselves, the squirrels, and hares, and martins (present only via track), and flickers, and jays. As well as a foggy, immutable tableau of life-giving and landscape-creating snow which we could only ever see in part. Between the distractions of skiing and attending to the hourly needs which circumscribe existence, we could only stand around in the silence and stare.
It’s a good place to be back with.
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