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Begins: Aug 6, 2019
Date: Mon, Feb 18th, 2019
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Winter Backpacking Trip #2
Leading up to this trip on the Quehanna Trail in north central PA (same location as trip #1) I watched the weather forecast closely, and to my surprise there was no snow forecast. After the last snowy trip where my 3 season tent failed, I bought and inexpensive, but heavy dome self supported tent. With no snow in the forecast, I opted to save 2.5lbs and take Soloplex again. It turns out that was a good decision as we were treated to a bright, moonlite night with virtually no wind. I also acquired an X-Therm sleeping pad, and after such a warm night's sleep in 10 degrees on top of snow, I have to wonder why I didn't get one sooner. I can't say that I"ve always been the fastest learner!
When we arrived at the trail head at 9:30am it was 25 degrees and there was a light snow coming down. We commented how the sun we drove through on the way was just a tease. With ice and sleet from earlier in the week, the snow was glistening with a hard crust that partially broke with each step and was quite slippery. In the first 1/2 mile we all put our micro spikes on and they remained our friend for the next 31 miles. I took them off once thinking that I had the other foot steps for traction, (slow learner reference) only to put them back on after several near misses. We did get some glorious sun late in the day that really warmed us up as we hiked along a nice creek with various small waterfalls. We camped at an old foundation near a creek finding four flat spots for our tents. I cooked my cous cous as the moon emerged, but noticed it was getting colder as my cooking water had ice in it. After too much food, I snuggled into my moutain of down and listened to an interview with Anish about her calendar triple crown. I couldn't help but think what it must be like to average 30 mile days!
I exited my tent at 4am groggy, stiff, and sliding across the now harder snow crust. Later, I lay there listening to all the racket I must have made crunching in the crusty snow as my hiking partners started to move about. After a cold breakfast and breaking camp with cold fingers, we started out at just after 7am. I did learn from the last trip that my feet and hands need help in the morning. I put hand warmers in my mittens and my boots as I was breaking camp and that prevented the usual uncomfortable first hour of hiking with cold toes and fingers. One of my fellow hikers made the mistake of leaving her gloves outside of her bag overnight and we had to do a bit of an emergency fix with hand warmers and a spare pair of mittens. I've learned to sleep with everthing that I can fit into my bag that I might need in the night or morning. The downside is the feeling of a being in a clothes dryer when I turn over!
As the sun got higher, the ice covered trees and vegetation were brilliant. The warmth of the sun and the winter beauty made the next 15 miles a real joy. We even found a sunny spot to take a break and eat a large late morning snack of almond butter, cheese, dark chocolate, and power bars, and fill our water bottles which had stopped trying to freeze up. A winter trip like this one makes me want to come back.
Jim's Nobo CDT Journey
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