As we have been posting on Facebook, it’s cold up here. But what can you do in the northland when the temperature doesn’t get above zero?
Many activities you take part in when the temperature is in the 20’s are the same ones you can do when the weather is cold. As you have all heard before, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment/clothes/gear, depending on who is saying it. But it is absolutely true.
Let’s start with equipment. The ski trails are groomed and the cold weather has assured us that overall, most of the lakes are safe for travel. If you are nordic skiing on the tracked course, bring your light touring skis; if you are going off on your own, check out some of the back country skis that we have in rental. Either the HOK or Marquette skis can take you up and down the rivers or across some of the big lakes.
Whether you are on the prepared trails or backcountry, make sure you have survival gear with you. That includes maps, compass, dry matches, stove, small cook kit, headlamp, emergency food and something you can add to your melted snow to drink. If you are going out for a long trek, a space blanket or warm sleeping bag is also recommended.
Snowshoeing follows the same suggestions for survival gear. In some places the snow is a little deep and if you are renting snowshoes, ask for the attachable tails to go with them. They help in deeper snow.
When it comes to clothing, the word of the day is layer, layer, layer. Start with a good merino wool or synthetic base layer. From there you can add a shirt and/or a nice base layer jacket. The jacket can be a light down or synthetic/fleece. Over that, a heavier jacket (some of us prefer down, with an anorak/shell over that). Now you are all set on top. You have combinations of clothes you can remove and put in your pack. When the temperature gets lower, you can put the layers back on.
Down below, a good base layer covered by an insulated pant is best. It is a good idea to have a pant that can be vented so you do not get too warm
Footwear depends on your activity. Most importantly, keep your feet dry. You might take an extra pair of good wool socks along in case your feet do get wet. There is nothing like a clean pair of dry socks later in the day.
Don’t forget about a hat and a pair of mittens or gloves. In general, mittens keep your hands warmer, but some activities need the dexterity a good set of gloves can provide.
This is a pretty basic list. With experience, you can find things that work and things that don’t work.
You may have noticed something missing from the list above: cotton. It just does not keep you warm, especially when wet. Wool, on the other hand, is a great insulator and keeps you warm when wet. The old days of itchiness are gone; modern manufacturing processes mean you can wear fine merino wool in comfort.
Down is great in terms of warmth for weight but it does need to stay dry. That is the reason for an anorak or shell over it. Keep in mind the last thing you want to do is sweat profusely. That is the reason for layering.
These are just a couple of things you can do up here without a shelter or heater. Those we can discuss another day.