Thursday, January 3, 2013

Trip Report: Winter in the Dix Mountain Wilderness

We camped and hiked in the Dix Wilderness over the long New Year's weekend.

We started at the Round Pond trailhead on Saturday afternoon and hiked the ~4 miles to the Boquet River lean-to.  The trail was already broken, but with a fully loaded pack and heavy feet (winter boots + snowshoes), it was a tiring hike.

At the intersection of the Round Pond trail and the Boquet River trail, the snow bridge over the creek had collapsed, leaving us to balance our way across a log.

this would be a really, really bad time to lose your balance
We made it across with no dunkings (though I was mentally rehearsing the process for getting a hypothermic person wrapped into a plastic sleeping bag burrito).

inside the bouquet river lean-to
we melted snow for water
We saw a snowshoe hare circling our camp.  Super neat - I haven't seen much wildlife in the ADKs during the winter on day hikes, so that was a real treat.

snowshoe hare wants to eat my mac n' cheese. i want to eat snowshoe hare.
On Sunday morning, we hiked the last 2 miles to the summit of Dix Mountain, the 6th highest peak in New York State.  The first mile was moderate, and then it got STEEP.  With the knee-deep snow, it was one step forward and slide two back.

But we made it!

summit pic
The weather on top was crazy and intense:  the wind was screaming up the east side of the mountain.

beautiful but unpleasant
But, wow, were the views beautiful!

We raced back down the mountain and back to the lean-to, where we packed up and out, finishing the hike by headtorch.

the "after" picture"

So, how do you stay warm while winter camping?
1)  Eat, eat, eat (Saturday dinner for Dave and I was 3 boxes of mac n' cheese + 4 hotdogs + 1 stick of butter);
2)  Stay active (run in circles, do crunches, split firewood);
3)  Fire (hike to find dead n' down wood, drag it back to camp, saw it, split it, stack it... then finally burn it).

Overall, I did pretty well at staying warm, especially considering we did not get a fire going so this was technically "cold camping" (heh, yeah right).  I think it got down to about 5 F at night.  Next time, I need to work on winter fire techniques (fire pan?), having easier-to-eat trail foods and easier-to-access hydration, and a better way to keep my hands dry-ish and warm-ish (or at least not frozen).

It was an awesome trip to kick off the winter season, and I'm really looking forward to the next!

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