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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Lessons from -40F


Last year, I went hiking in New Hampshire's Franconia Notch. This was not my first winter camping trip. It was, however, the first time I slept outside with a thermometer reading of 40 degrees below zero (before wind chill). Here's what I learned from the experience:


1. Minus 10 feels balmy when you just experienced minus 40

2. Your sleeping bag is your best friend

3. Good winter boots are expensive, but divide the price by 10 and consider it the price to save a toe from frostbite (and possible amputation). All of a sudden, you see a bargain.

4. White gas (naphta) can freeze

5. As the temperatures falls, it takes a lot longer to melt snow into water

6. If you happen to slide down a hill and hit a tree, the tree is actually harder at -40

7. If you're looking to get away from the crowds, look for really cold spots

8. You lose a lot of water just by breathing (When we woke up, there was a 2 inch crust of ice on the inside walls of the tent. That was the water we had breathed out.)

9. Batteries die at that temperature.

10. If you go far enough, deep enough or hard enough, someday, your life will depend on your equipment. Here are 2 words that will take a whole new meaning: "Lifetime warranty".
***

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