Bryce – Solo Winter Adventures in Utah: Day 1

Bryce – Solo Winter Adventures in Utah: Day 1

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The ‘Silent City’ of hoodoos at Bryce from Inspiration Point at sunrise (Janaury 27, 2020; 18℉)

Overview Trip Report: Bryce (Day 1)

  • Date: January 27, 2020
  • Activity: Winter Hiking; 3 separate day hikes
  • Weather: 18ºF to 34ºF (maximum wind speed: 35 – 45 mph)
  • Trail Name(s):
    1. The Rim Trail: Inspiration Point to Sunset Point (0.6 miles one way). I hiked it as an out-and-back (1.2 miles) just after dawn. Trail conditions: 8 – 12 inches light powder on top of packed powder; ~3 foot drifts in the margins. Traction: snowshoes recommended.
    2. Peek-a-boo Loop Trail from Bryce Point (5.5 miles total). I hiked from, and returned to, Bryce Point. Trail conditions: drifting snow, light powder, 4 – 12 inches of packed powder and occasion ice with Intermittent ice and mud at the lower elevations. Traction: microspikes and trekking poles.
    3. The Rim Trail: Sunrise Point to Sunset Point (0.5 miles one way). I hiked it as an out-and-back (1.0 miles) just before dusk. Trail conditions: black ice on pavement sections, unpaved sections were a mix of snow and ice (1 – 4 inches of powdery snow obscuring underlying ice). Traction: microspikes and trekking poles.
  • Parking/Access: Before sunrise, roads in National Park hadn’t been plowed yet (4 to 6 inches of powder had fallen overnight). They plowed just after sunrise. Rainbow Gate remained closed throughout the day. I was the second car to enter the park for the day, and parking remained easy throughout my time at Bryce.
  • Background about Bryce: For information about the history, geology, and terms used when discussing Bryce, see my previous post: What is Bryce Canyon? Hoodoo?

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Winter Backpacking: Mt. Washington, NH

Winter Backpacking: Mt. Washington, NH

“Wow!!” I grinned, ear to ear, as I gazed up at the sparkling white, snow-covered summit of Mount Washington, set against the most amazingly clear bluebird sky I’ve ever seen in the White Mountains. It was hard to believe that just a few days before the winds had been blasting across the mountains at 171 mph with temperatures dipping down to -13F (-25C) since today the sun was shining, temperatures were rising into the teens, the winds were calm, and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Not a single one!!  I couldn’t have asked for better weather for me first winter overnight on Mt. Washington! (Trip report and gear list below)

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Doggone Cold! Winter Gear List for Dogs

Winter on Mary's Rock

Here’s a list of the winter hiking and backpacking gear that M’s Seeing Eye Dog Edge used on our winter Appalachian Trail adventure in Virginia for New Year’s. This list includes the gear he used for climbing up to Mary’s Rock with wind-chills of -15℉, as well as the gear he used for his first winter overnight (with a record-breaking low of -2℉).

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6 Shiny Things for Winter Adventurers

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For me one of the shiniest (best) things is a beautiful winter’s day in the mountains with sunshine, bluebird skies, sparkling fresh snow, and glittering cascades of ice (Mt. Monroe, NH 2017).

During winter when the darkness comes too soon and lingers for far too long, all the shiny, sparkly, and glittery things seem to have extra appeal. The six things that made my list for this year’s winter gift guide ($7 to $70) and gear review all make dark winter days and long winter nights a little bit brighter, shinier, and more sparkly. So, without further ado, here are a few of my shiniest things (additional holiday song spoofs included in photo captions):

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Winter Backpacking Gear: Light Weight Gear for Temperatures < 32F/0C

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The  extreme air temperatures on the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire can range from the 40°s (F) to the -40°s (F) during the winter months.

Before I delve into the details of my winter backpacking gearlist, I want to start by defining ‘winter backpacking’. Although most people define winter backpacking as backpacking between the first day of winter and the first day of spring (eg,  December 21 to March 20), the definition of winter backpacking that I use to guide my gear decisions is more accurately reflected by the lowest temperatures (as well as snow/ice conditions) that I am expecting to encounter on my backpacking trip. The rough definitions of backpacking seasons that I use are:

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‘Tis the Season for High-Vis Hiking… (Hunting, blaze orange, a high-vis gearlist and more)

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The sound of gunfire shattered the stillness of the trail. “Oh, shit!” I thought. “It’s still hunting season!” Once again I’d forgotten that the winter hiking and backpacking season was also hunting season. I paused, trying to remember where my blaze orange was… Doh!! The answer was nowhere useful. I have a blaze orange hiking T-shirt that I wear in the fall, along with a blaze orange reflective baseball cap-I love them both. I also have a blaze orange expedition parka, but I don’t have any blaze orange for the in-between-winter season. Clearly, I needed more blaze orange backpacking gear. The only problem was that I needed it right then!

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Part 2 – A Solo Winter Mount Washington Ascent

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Was I really going to set off to climb Mt. Washington (the mountain with the worst weather in the world) when the temperature in the parking lot was -16F? No, I was not! (See Part 1- To Hike or Not to Hike). I was going to wait… at least for a little while… It was -4F when I left Carter Notch and that had seemed like a perfectly reasonable temperature for a hike, but -16F? No way!… That settled it, I was going to wait until the temperatures got up to at least -5F before I left the warmth and safety of my car…

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