We've been getting a lot of snow this winter and I was anxious to get out in it. So on January 6th I decided to continue my exploration of the Mid-State Trail. Below you can see a "selfie" of me next to one of the orange blazes on the trail. I knew it was going to be cold so I grew a bit of a beard in advance. It made a huge difference in how cold my face felt.
My favorite time to hike in the winter is shortly after a snow. It makes everything more beautiful and magical looking.
One funny thing I found was that my iPhone has a lower temperature range. Don't know what it is exactly but it was in the teens while I was walking. So often when I would stop to take a photo the phone wouldn't be able to work until I warmed it up a bit.
Apparently I was the first to hike the trail since the snow. Above you can see the trail ahead of me with nothing but snow on it.
The drop in temperature had been pretty recent so the streams were still flowing and not completely frozen over.
At one point the trail looked like it was going to cross over this old bridge. Thankfully it didn't. I could easily see myself falling through into the frigid water below!
I think winter is a good time to hike this section of the trail. There are many upland bogs here and although there are sometimes boards set up for walking on I think that I would have had wet feet during the other three seasons of the year.
As with any other trail there are maintenance problems. There were a few downed trees the blocked the way forward and so I had to bushwhack a fair amount. I was grateful for my West German wool army pants. They kept me toasty warm and I didn't have to worry about hurting them during even the worst bushwhack.
In fact I was quite pleased with my entire winter setup. On top I worse my synthetic hoodie and a light-weight fleece jacket. On top of the hoodie I wore a hat that I could take off and stuff in my pocket when I got warm. Similarly with my OR Meteor Mitts. I could slip the outer shell off and let it hang from it's cords around my wrist and just wear the liners when I was warm and I could slip the shells back on when needed. I really value being able to regulate my temperature without stopping to repack.
In the evening I stopped and made camp just off the trail and got ready to make dinner. Here I discovered my big mistake of the trip. I had recently bought a Primus Eta-Lite canister stove. My son and I had used it on a hike and I had done a test boil or two but I had never tried it in the cold. What I discovered was that those little canisters run out faster than I had thought. So I had no warm dinner that night. I should have brought an extra canister because not only was I not able to cook dinner but my water froze during the night. Ideally what I wanted to do was boil some water, put it in my water bottle and sleep with it so that I would have plenty in the morning. As it was I ate cold snacks for dinner and drank from a cold stream in the morning. Man is it hard to drink much when the water is that cold!
Fortunately my sleeping system worked great. I brought my Warbonnet Ridgerunner hammock with a new (well, since last winter) Lynx full-length 0 degree underquilt. Slept toasty though the temps dropped to near zero.
Poe Valley State Park, where I ended up looks like it would be a very nice park in the summer. I might have to come back so I can finish a hike with a swim in the lake.
My wife came and picked me up at the park and on the way up out of that valley there is this great view of Penns Valley.