A snowy little slog around Breakheart Reservation
(without shoes, of course)
[Text of a message I posted to SBL the same evening,
annotated with a couple of pictures]
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2018 19:36:47 -0500
Subject: more snow miles
I had a lovely ramble around a local reservation this afternoon, since the
day was mid to high 40s F. Tried to get some of the local listmembers
interested, but Life intervened. Since we're having this string of
nor'easters around here this month, this time out it was mostly snow --
soft in the warmth of the day, but still a couple of inches worth on the
ground in most places. Muddy slush in wet spots where other people had
been through, but in general still plenty of ice and water underfoot.
And quite a bit of down stuff from storm damage; my going was pretty slow
because I kept stopping to kick, throw and drag tree detritus off the trail.
The park maintenance folks can probably use all the help they can get -- if
the visiting public helps clean up, they have less work to do.
The "toe glow" got going in only about 15 minutes this time, as I got onto
the wrong trail after the "shortcut" I thought went around a big fallen tree
mess headed off in some random direction -- in snow, one tends to believe
that the trail is where all the previous boot-tracks go! Got sorted out
and up and over the rock knob I wanted to see, and on the way down came
back to the other side of said messy tree. A guy from DCR was there
cutting out a section to clear the trail again -- these guys jump *right*
on the job after an event like last week's. What amazed me was that he
was using an *electric* Makita chainsaw, with two standard tool battery
packs loaded into it -- said that would likely last him the entirety of
whatever loop he was taking to check up on things and clear the big stuff.
I know lithium batteries are always getting better but damn, that's some
good *capacity* under high loads like sawing.
[Two * 5Ah packs gives 10 amp-hours. Maybe that *is* enough
to get through a whole day of cleanup.]
One definite hazard in snowfooting on rocky *and* snowy slopes, especially
on the way down, is slipping a little and landing against something pointy
or jamming a toe, with less chance to sort things out as we do during the
normal course of a footfall. No mishaps today, though; tiny short fast
steps helped me stay in control.
There is a discernible numbing effect to the sole while the big thermal
gradient is in effect, and it remains for quite a while after the cold
exposure stops. While driving home I noticed that my sensitivity to the
car's pedals was a bit less, but still certainly better than trying to
drive in shoes. That gradually segued into the normal "I just worked my
feet a lot" tingle, but not quite as profound as if I'd been on dry
gravel the whole way. I don't worry about frostbite in these conditions,
because most of the snow is *at* or above 32F on a day like this -- it
has to be, or it wouldn't be melting. It was also quite sunny and the
bare rocks were warmer.
At one point I paused at a complex intersection to noodle out which
trail I wanted next, and a couple came along and we got into a little
conversation. "Oh, you're the barefoot hiker!" one said -- "we saw your
foot tracks earlier, and wondered." They sort of knew about barefoot hiking
but didn't think anyone was nuts enough to do it in these conditions.
I felt great at that point, though -- about 2 hours into it for a total
of about three when I was done, and could have gone longer. I got the
usual other assortment of reactions [including none, even if they
perceptibly noticed] from other folks I met along the way.
Silly selfie, atop Eagle Rock: