Fall is here at last! Multiple days in the 90’s, coupled with water spaced every seven to ten miles has been difficult to navigate. Today brought a new challenge: hypothermia.
Well, almost. Since leaving Bailey Gap Shelter this morning, I have been assaulted by a 20mph breeze. By 10am I ascended the ridge where I am now bedded down for the night. At 3500ft the gusts began to hit 30mph, and the air temperature stayed in the low 50’s.
I didn’t stop for sixteen miles. Cedar taught me to use my rain shell in combo with a regular shirt in high winds, and that works well. My fleece does nothing to stop the wind, and in combo with the shell, I wet out with sweat in a half-hour. Low insulation, high wind resistance is the way to go.
I stopped at the Rice Field Shelter, because it was the only wind break I’ve had all day. I was starving, and downed a package of mashed potatoes, and three peanut butter tortillas filled with Fritos. Then I ate a Snickers for good measure.
I was chilled, as happens when your body pulls the blood back into your core for digestion. No big deal, I’d be walking soon. When I left the shelter however, I noticed a line of rain clouds headed my way. I wouldn’t be going anywhere.
I went back to the shelter and set up for the night. I changed into my base layers, fresh socks, and put my fleece back on. Even with a twenty degree sleeping bag, and my Xlite pad, it took nearly an hour for my hands to warm.
Hiking in 30mph winds, wet, at 50F is much more dangerous than it seems. It can lead to full blown hypothermia within three hours, and I had to learn that the hard way once.
No one fucks around when it’s 35F out, but in the 50’s we feel inclined to take risks. Everyone I know who has gone hypothermic has done so in weather which appeared too warm for it.
I’m happy for a break from the humidity though!