Friday, January 8, 2016

Short Days, Cold Nights.

It’s always tough this time of year.  Short days, long nights.  Add to that some elevation and the thinner air that brings… those long nights can get cold.  One camp was a little over 5000 feet above sea level.  

Out exploring during the warmest part of the day.  11:58-12:03.
 I can laugh about it now, but one day,  as the sun got low and the temperature dropped, I lit a little campfire.  I sat next to it, slowly adding sticks till I burned through the pile of wood I had accumulated, and watched as the last of the sticks burned out.  

Arizona Hoodoos.

 It had burned for several hours, but now that the sun was well below the horizon, the cold was too much, the fire too little.  I headed for the tent, updated my location-log, and tucked into the covers.  The cold weather is tough on the batteries, so reading on the tablet didn’t last long, and as I prepared to doze off, I noticed the time, 7 pm.  Long nights indeed.

Frozen dirt road.  Tread lightly!
 The next morning, the thermometer on my watch told me it was 17 degrees (Fahrenheit).  It’s a trick to stay warm at that temp, here’s what I recommend:

Blanket frost.

 Zip yourself into your nice mummy-style sleeping bag.  Put that inside a nice fleece sleeping bag.  Take two blankets, both a little short.  The goose down one covers from the feet to about the waist, the heavy fleece blanket covers from the shoulders to knees.  

Don’t forget the fleece stocking cap and the thickest socks I’ve ever seen.  Then take one of those chemical heat packs made for pockets and toss it down by your feet.  At 17 degrees, that still won’t be enough, but you can take comfort in knowing you’ve done all you can.

Roof frost.
 The hard part is getting out of bed in the morning.  Fortunately, once the sun is up, the temp rises quickly.  By 10 AM, it was warm enough to take a motorcycle 20 miles to the nearest town and get some breakfast: a couple eggs and a hot pot of coffee

For now, I’m just drifting along, waiting for the warmer weather to return.  It always does.  I can already tell the days are getting longer.  That, and I can read the calendar.

Lunch at City Salads, my favorite fast-food restaurant.  Too bad they only have one location in the U.S.A.

That line heading off to the horizon is the Mexican border fence.

Snow in Douglas, Arizona.