I hate to say it out loud in case someone is actually paying attention, but I made a resolution to get out paddle/camping at least once a month through the coming year. Yeah, I know this is no big deal for those living in places that have real paddling water, but here on the edge of the ‘Great American Desert,’ getting out on the water has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Suddenly I was faced with the 30th of January. What to do?
One of my other on-going challenges has been showing up in paddling country with enough clothing to meet any weather adversity without looking like I’m hauling a load from a Goodwill truck. I’ve too often ended up leaning toward the latter. What I needed was an outing to try out some combinations that could fit in a 20-litre drybag, and yet provide just not survival, but comfort. It was to be 22 degrees, so I just went out locally so I could run for home if I screwed up too badly. Along with a 15-degree mummy bag, I carried a second pair of wool socks, one pair of Cabela’s Polar Fleece bottoms, a long-sleeved tee and sweat shirt, pull-over hoodie, knit watch cap, and rabbit fur-lined gloves. In actual practice, I’d replace the sweat shirt with a fleece top or wool sweater. Besides the warmth, they’d also pack smaller. I slept very comfortably.
Night #2 was more of a challenge. I turned in with the same outfit, but the temperature had made a sudden 34-degree upswing. I wasn’t in too long before I started shedding clothing. I got rid of the gloves, watch cap, wool socks, and fleece bottoms and left the bag completely unzipped. The warmer temperature was a blessing, but the sudden temperature swing to 56-degrees set up a terrible wind event with sudden hammering gusts to 40 and 50mph. I was being shaken and buffeted, and the noise was so clamorous that sleep was impossible.