Of course, when you live in the Northeast and hike all 365 days of the year, you are going to experience a variety of weather conditions.
On my walk this morning: I know there is a sheet of ice under the snow. To try to get some kind of traction, I pick my way on the snow that’s been roughened by previous footsteps. I’ve learned that it’s hard to keep my mileage up when I’ve fallen inelegantly on my butt, so I try not to slip ungainly on the ice.
After a few hours in the park, I can’t drink from my water bottle any more. The nozzle has frozen shut. I think about my buddy Mike who treks in high altitude, and Tom and Joe and Mark who have backpacked in some frigid Utah conditions. It’s none of my business who they sleep with, but they do keep their water bottles warm in their sleeping bags at night.
I keep hearing what sounds like a distant howl from a dog. It’s not a dog, it’s my nylon sleeve brushing against my jacket. My ears are tucked snugly under a knit cap inside my hood. My glasses have fogged over. Can’t hear a damned thing. Can’t see much more.
Ordinarily at daybreak, I might cross paths with a number of dog walkers, half a dozen or more. Today it is 10° and no one else is out. The dogs would be going, “Uhh, uhh…”
At dawn, shadows are long. In fact, as I stand on a bridge spanning a 77-foot drop, angling my gaze out over the gorge, I see my shadow 150 feet away in the top branches of the trees. A shadow of a shadow.
I finish the hike and arrive back home. I want to take my boots off. My laces are frozen. I have to pee.