Saturday, January 31, 2009

Carter Notch, January 30, 2009

What a great day and a great hike! Thanks to all of you who wished me well. It was one of those perfect days when everything cooperated. Good company clear skies, and beautiful scenery.

We started at the trailhead at 9 a.m. and the path was fairly well packed out from last week's storm but it was still hard work climbing 2000 vertical feet over 3.9 miles in snowshoes.

Layering with synthetic layers is the way to go when winter hiking. The enemy of the hiker is not the cold but moisture--so to avoid sweating, you always want to be slightly cold in your layers, adding and subtracting as necessary. The synthetic fabrics wick the moisture away from your body and keep you dry so that when you stop and the wind picks up you don't freeze into a hikersicle.

In addition to the synthetic fabrics sold for hikers and skiers, chemical hand warmers are another thing that makes winter hiking more comfortable. I had one in each glove as I hiked up the mountain and had a new set to switch over at the hut for maximum heating. This I did at the hut after eating lunch and changing into dry socks. The mistake I made--and I'm going to try and put this delicately--was putting the still warm used handwarmers in my bra--it seemed like a good idea at the time and since this is a family blog, I won't go into detail--but CAUTION: Do Not Do This Even if It Seems Like A Good Idea At The Time.

By the time we were within a mile of the hut and climbing steeply the wind picked up and it was COLD. Maybe it's always cold in notches where the wind comes howling down the rift between big mountains but I just about froze my fingers taking very few pictures. Our lunch break at the hut was welcome, there was no fire and it was cold but at least the wind stayed outside so we could eat our lunch even if it meant putting things into our mouths to melt before chewing.

The descent went much quicker than the ascent and by the time we had lost some elevation we could once again feel our fingers and toes. It was fun getting to know Elise who is the clerk in one of my courts and her friend Sally who hiked over 2000 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her husband in 2007, the year that she turned 50. It was great to hike with them and I hope we can do it again really soon.

16 comments:

Marianne said...

Wow! What a wonderful adventure. I'm going to Vancouver to visit my daughter in March and she said that snow shoeing is quite the thing there and if there is still snow she'd like for us to go. I'm game! It will be a new experience for both of us. Thanks for this post. xoxo Marianne

Mary C said...

Beth, I'm glad you had a really nice hike. Sounds great. I'm a wuss, though, and would never venture out to hike a mountain in the winter. Even with synthetic layers I'd still be cold, especially my fingers and toes. But, I do like the outdoors, and make the time to walk (30 minutes) during my lunch breaks at work each day.

BTW, I will have to add you to my google reader, too. Thanks for adding me.

Mary said...

Beth, I'm so impressed with you. Hiking a mountain is an adventure I would love to try before I die; however, I don't do well in extreme cold. Perhaps if I knew how to stay warm... My body is not in good enough shape to make it anyway :o)

I hope you don't have a chemical burn...ouch.

Ruth said...

You certainly have piqued my interest!family blog or not. You seem to indicate that the chemical pack is safe to hands. Sounds like a great winter hike.

Vickie said...

What an inspirational post, in energy, endurance and beauty. I am sure it was exhilerating and the photos make it look so appealing.

I related to your numb fingers. I've never tried the warmers but I have some now and need to try them. My fingers go numb when its in the 20's here, in just a few minutes.

Vickie said...

BTW, I have a friend who puts them in her bra without a hitch. So my curiousity is peaked too!

KGMom said...

We have used the hand warmers in the past at football games.
Um, I don't think I would put it in my bra! They do get. . .warm. And the skin on one's hands is a bit thicker and tougher than the thin delicate skin. . .
Enough said.

beth said...

well....I'm glad you're not a hikersicle and that you made it up and down just fine...BUT what about your boobs...come on,you left us hanging !

beckie said...

The view is breathtaking-very peaceful, but oh so cold. It's always fun to find someone new to share an adventure with. Glad you had a great time. (and survived :}!)

rach :) said...

I'll keep the advice about hand warmer placement... close to my chest! (Sorry, couldn't resit...)

Glad you had a good day. It was nice to feel the sun on my face, even if it was only while getting in and out of the car.

Beth said...

Marianne, you will love snowshoeing. It is low impact (even if you fall--it's into snow!), you get out into the woods and it is very good exercise. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Mary C, my toes and fingers definitely were too cold to feel for a while. I had a thermos of hot tea for the hut and that helped.

Mary, maybe a nice spring or autumn hike would be a good place to start--if I ever get good at identifying birds maybe I can invite "The Flock" to New England to find whatever rare species lurk in our mountains.

Ruth, I posted an update--inquiring minds wanted to know.

Vickie, the handwarmers are very nice and they last for a long time. I buy them by the gross (well not quite) but I do order them in packages of 50.

KGMom, you got it.

Beth, teehehehehee

Beckie, it was beautiful and a fun day and the best part--I just woke up on Sunday morning and am now sore!

Rach, oh humor--well I deserved that. I hope you can get out and enjoy today.

KaHolly said...

I was waiting to hear how your hike went. What a day you had! I've ventured out in the snow a little more this year, on x-country skiis, although winter is not "my season" and being cold "not my thing". I must admit, it's exhilerating if you are dressed properly. Thank you for sharing.

Jayne said...

Uh... ouch. :c) Glad everything stayed relatively warm and that the hike was as beautiful as you'd hoped it would be. I am still in awe. Maybe if I lived in a climate like Maine, I'd have to get a bit tougher. :c)

mon@rch said...

Hand Warmers are a must!

NCmountainwoman said...

Amazing, isn't it...how warm and cozy an unheated hut can be when it shelters you from the wind. I loved your hiking story. And don't forget...a red mark from heat is actually a first-degree burn.

Kathiesbirds said...

Do you mean top tell me you burned your b**bs! Oh my! So sorry for that. Ouch! You are one determined hiker is all I can say, but I bet it felt good to get out of the house.