Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Freehiking the Rocky Mountains

“Got my first freehike of the year on the last week on January. Since I live in the northern Rocky Mountains, I count this as something of an accomplishment. The valley had been suffering a temperature inversion since right after Christmas. With temperatures in the low teens (Fahrenheit) I drove out of town up toward an area of sandstone and scattered trees and shrubs-about 1500 feet higher than town. I was hoping to pass out of the cold, heavier air, and, sure enough, I watched the outdoor thermometer in my vehicle rise quickly to the upper 20's. OK, that is not exactly tropical, and I left the truck in full winter attire. Once I got passed the open area near the highway and into the slick rock, the reflected sun off the rocks immediately warmed me. Before long, I was down to boots, socks, sunglasses, and hat and I was able to comfortably climb all over the rocks for over an hour. It was pure, natural bliss, hopping from rock to rock, avoiding snow banks when possible. Next time, however, I must remember to bring gaiters because there were places where knee deep snow could not be avoided. A little protection on the lower legs would have been nice. . . I am off to a good start!” – Mike

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