[pct-l] optimal conditions

abiegen at cox.net abiegen at cox.net
Tue Sep 7 17:37:19 CDT 2010

Ned wrote,"We logged about 70 nights on snow last season alone and about 10 snow storms between Dec. '09 and July '10 between Tahoe and KM south. "

Oh, you're hiking a different hike than most thru hikers at a different time of year.

Ned wrote, "Because we teach wilderness skills during the winter, we experience a lot of bad weather and have to choose the type of gear that will keep us safe, warm, and dry and be durable enough to last as long as possible since we give this training away for free."

I would imagine you experience a lot of bad weather during the winter.

Ned wrote, "Again, we teach "snow sense," winter skills and techniques that keep you warm and dry and allow you to safely enjoy the Fourth Season."

Yes, we enjoy the fourth season - October through April. A time to sort your pictures, heal your feet, clean up your journal and start that book. Learn to be human again - no a pee bottle next to the master bed is NOT required; no you shouldn't cut off your dried up blisters at the kitchen table; no you don't need to use your alcohol stove on top off the ceramic stove top.

But seriously, I lived in Buffalo New York for twelve years so I know where Ned is coming from. I still have a problem equating wet feet with death. Yes, I will do anything to avoid waking in water. Yes, I know what snow is like. Yes, I have been in -70 wind chill conditions where it was painful to breathe. I learned that the universe is inherently cold, close to absolute zero and that warmth is a rare and passing experience. 

But now I live in southern California. The worst day here is better than the best day in Buffalo (well, that's true for most of the country). And I have lightened up my gear accordingly. And I do wade through streams now, although somewhat reluctantly.

I appreciate Ned instructing us on what can go wrong. I really appreciate his winter wonderland classes. And free is really really generous. I would have taken it this year but it was scheduled a few weeks after kick-off, an inconvenient time for me. Coincidentally (most would say ironically but I know that irony is something else entirely), when Ned's class was being held I was busy falling 100 feet off Apache Peak and tearing up my ankle. Maybe that class would have helped. Maybe I'll take it before my next PCT attempt. But I would get off the trail before I would carry a 60 pound pack again.

"I can't think when my feet hurt."
Abraham Lincoln

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