Various Updates & Techniques Validated

Local hikes continued – with varying degrees of success. I returned to the Athletic Complex twice: once by myself for about 7.5 miles. I offer 7.5 because before I got a look at the saved data I lost my iPhone. No,  the iPhone isn’t laying somewhere along the trail; I placed it on the rear bumper of the 300Zx and drove off without retrieving it. I had been too busy poking dirt from the treads of my boots with my hiking sticks – while trying to bend stiff knees. The new owner picked the phone up and removed it from service before the data for the hike synced with the GAIA server! The new owner was quick! So you have to trust me, it was about 7.5 miles. Honest.

A second hike was made with Polka Dot. We left on Sunday morning from her home while Coach enjoyed the homemade biscuits that Scamper made for him. We hiked a combination of roadways and cart-paths before joining the PTC trail for what became a 10-mile round-trip to the Athletic Complex. Said hike was in 15-degree temperatures so we were in full cold weather test mode. We subsequently validated good techniques for hiking with light gear.

Polka Dot validated that the layering of clothing (so often a topic on and other hiking blogs) is a very workable technique. We’d not gone but a mile before she removed one layer – a windshirt that blocked wind from piercing it and heat from exiting it. That left her with three thin layers. I took off my rain shell a mile of so later and that left me with a smartwool T-shirt and a zip-fleece. That was the extent of layer adjustments for of the remainder of our hike, although we were briefly tempted to don a wind shell when the wind blew into us on an extended stretch of road. The only moisture that collected was between our packs and our backs.

I validated that the water line of my hydration system must be kept from freezing in cold weather.  Which reminds me of a story — in the early 80s some helicopter pilots returned from a training exercise in Egypt and briefed the commanding general that they learned that when hovering over the desert, blowing sand impaired vision. With a slightly raised eyebrow, the CG remarked that he hoped they didn’t fly 6000-miles to learn that lesson. That slide was swiftly pulled from the Pentagon briefing deck!

So too with my lesson – I knew before starting the hike that a frozen hydration line was a possibility. I figured that one solution might be to drink more often. While workable, I was likely to run out of water! Another option was to blow the residual water back into the bladder. That might have worked if water had not settled into the bite value – and froze before I took another drink. I had previously considered an insulation kit, but the cost out-weighed the negligible benefits. Upon return home I found a more practical solution – blow the water back into the bladder and evacuate the bite value. First I had to replace my Platypus bite value with a Camelbak featuring a shutoff value. Then, by twanging the feed-line, water was virtually eliminated from the line and the value. So the best defense against freezing water was to get all the water out of the line. Body heat generally keeps water in the reservoir above freezing. A backup system includes water bottles stored upside down in side pockets. Upside down prevents the spout from freezing.

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