Cold and Dark

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Excerpt from walking softly in the wilderness Sierra.

For winter travel you will have to make some changes in your gear—some substitutions, even more additions. Your summer hiking boots may or may not do for winter because winter is another world. So different are its rules, so special its demands, that what you almost need is a different manual.

The great reality is that, snow is cold. Never underestimate it and never take your situation for granted. You may or may not feel warm in your sleeping bag, usually not, but the times in between are rarely comfortable. Fingers get cold and become disobedient. Bare metal can be so frigid that it stings bare flesh. Flashlights balk, cameras jam, and water freezes solid in canteens. Everything you do takes longer—and there is more to do; more gear to deal with, more fixing, more finding, more figuring, and more rigging to be done (just check out our tent in the picture). You also need to perform all these duties in bulkier clothes that are more restrictive, and to add to it all there is less daylight to do it in.

 Backtracking, trying to find the trail in the northern Presidential Mountains.

Backtracking, trying to find the trail in the northern Presidential Mountains.