Surviving the Cold Snap

The last week of January 2019 was a chilly one! My day job was put on hold for four days. I only went to work on Friday last week. Many businesses closed or closed early. It was strange and wonderful to have a one day work week. Now it is the weekend again. Today I did some shopping and it seemed that so did every other person in this city. Every place I shopped was over-crowded. Once I got home I decided to hike as long as I could before it got dark. The trails were crowded too! People were walking dogs, jogging, riding fat-tire bikes, cross-country skiing, sledding. We are all so happy to have that polar vortex gone, we just have to get out and do something!

Earlier I posted “How Cold is Too Cold to Hike?”. I did get a chance to hike in -15°F (-27°C) and it was too cold to really enjoy the experience. If I had better gear for my face it might have been a different story. I had multiple layers of a fleece scarf and a wool scarf. I had the fleece scarf in a loose cylinder around the lower half of my head and the wool scarf touching my face. The fleece blocked the wind, but it also kept the warm air from my breath close to my face. The warm air condensed and made my face wet. This would have been dangerous had I been on a longer hike. I did not have the ski goggles, just plastic sunglasses to block the wind from my eyes. They kept fogging up so I took them off. The wind made my eyes water and tears turned to little bits of ice. My eyelashes stuck together. My nose hairs stuck together. It was not an enjoyable walk, it was an exercise in stamina and self-awareness. My thoughts while on this frigid adventure: “What happens if I exhale more slowly? Will that keep the glasses from getting foggy?… No.” “Can I expose my nose long enough to let the glasses clear?…No.” “Is the top of my head warm? Yes. That’s good”. “Are my hands warm? Mostly.” Are my feet warm? Yes.” “Is my core warm? Yes, but I can sense a chill through this coat, I should have added one more layer”. “Are my legs warm? Warm enough.” Usually my thoughts on a hike are much more insightful and interesting. I guess it was a different type of awareness: Survival of my physical body. Checking in with my physical body. Very important.

A key to my feet being warm was the addition of foil insoles. I do not remember where I learned of this technique, but it really works! I cut the shapes of the soles of my feet from bubble wrap that has foil on one side. It was left over from a food delivery (Christmas present from my daughter. If she is reading this, thanks again! The food was delicious!) I put the insoles in my boots with the foil side toward my feet. They reflect the foot’s heat back to the foot instead of losing it to the boot and the ground. It is similar to the science of the emergency foil blanket, which should be in my pack on every hike (note to self).

feet and a scissor and foil insoles.
I made insoles from an insulated food bag. My feet stayed nice and warm.

That was Tuesday. It got colder on Wednesday. I had appointments to go to and was worried that my car would have trouble but starting it every six hours or so must have done the trick. I managed to get to all the places I needed to go. Luckily they were open. Lots of places closed due to the weather. Did not hike. Thursday was about the same as Tuesday. I was having motivational issues that I will write about in a future post. I did not hike. I did not even draw. It was hibernation.

Today was a balmy 37° ABOVE ZERO (+3°C) I walked over 2 hours. I took all kinds of photos of interesting textures and ice formations. It was glorious. This is what Minnesota is like. It has been said many times: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes. It will change.

You can from this photo that it is a little warmer. The snow is turning to rounded ice crystals as it melts.

My motivational issues are also changing for the better. A message from a friend arrived today. She shared a motivational bit of wisdom that was perfect. Doubt is doubt. It just is. Just because it exists does not mean I have to stop what I am doing. Last night I found a blog post that was also perfect. We fail at 100% of what we do not try. We must try. The photo below is a tree that caught my attention today. Such texture! Such steadfastness! I did not notice that it looks like a woman until later. It is reminding me to be strong and confident and just keep growing. Growing slow is ok.

Powerful looking tree
“Powerful Woman Tree”

2 responses to “Surviving the Cold Snap”

  1. Adding foil insoles to your boots sounds genius! I’ll have to give this a try next time I go winter hiking. Hope you’ve managed to keep warm!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, all is well here. Hopefully same for you! I wish I could remember who told me about the insole idea, it is a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

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