Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter fun

I looks like old man winter just isn't going to let go early this year. Usually I'm not too thrilled, but this year I've decided to embrace (or re-embrace) the challenges that the winter landscape has in store.

I have always been a 4 season backpacker, but after a nasty fall in the White Mountains in 2006 (which left me with a bum shoulder for about a year) I called it quits on winter sports. As fate would have it we've had so much snow here in the Northeast this year that it was either get back into the swing of things or suffer a fate worse than death (proverbial or literal - take your pick): the never ending winter honey-do-list. So with that in mind I jumped in with both snowshoes, if you will.

A little over a week ago I snowshoed in the Delaware Water Gap, enjoying unbroken trail all the way to the summit of Mt. Tammany. Not epic by any proportion, but a good test of where I stood physically, as well as a great opportunity to polish some of the rust off. That trip will be shown in Trail Ready episode 2 if I can get my lazy tail in gear and get it edited.

I'm also in the process of building a pulk. I plan to use it on a 2-3 day trip to the Adirondacks in the next month or two. I have already acquired the sled (a Paris Expedition Sled),

and I am now waiting on parts from Ed's Wilderness Systems . As soon as I get the parts in I will detail the build here.

Also, in my search for the ultimate winter footwear I'm in a bit of a quandary. Years ago the first backpacking footwear I ever purchased (23+ years ago!) was a pair of Merrell Wilderness hiking boots. I used them 4 seasons and they served me well. I still have them even after many resoles, but they just don't fit well anymore and cause me a great deal of grief chafing my achilles heel. I've tried pac boots, which are warm but a little sloppy in the fit department. I tried Neos, but crampons don't fit on them (hence my nasty, albeit unprotected fall). This last trip I used my summer trail runners with smartwool socks and a vapor barrier sock over them, and they worked admirably well under the conditions that day, but I have my concerns under colder and more prolonged winter outings. I am now looking at mukluks . They seem to fit my requirements, but I guess I'll have to try them and see.

Anybody interested in a used pair of Neos? They're in great shape, only fell - I mean used once.........