Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Weather and Backcountry Gear

I find myself paying an inordinate amount of attention to the weather forecast before I go for a run.  I suppose there's nothing intrinsically wrong with using the technologies that are available to us, to make our lives easier/safer/better etc,

But I wonder how people used to get by...but I know the answer.  They prepared for various contingencies, for the worst conditions that they reasonably could expect to encounter.  And then rode it out.

So when I head into the backcountry, I always, always, check the detailed weather forecast.  You'd be nuts not to.  I carry a bit of extra food, just in case, and have often been very grateful I had it along.  Ditto for water. 

The one item of gear that I always carry in the backcountry--but have never yet used--is a space blanket (a giveaway from some marathon finish line many years back), a candle, and some waterproof matches.  The matches are to light the candle, which may be the only way to get a fire started if conditions are wet.  The fire and the space blanket, of course, are for the contingency of being unable to get out under one's own power, before dark (or getting dangerously chilled).

Anyway, back to the weather and a relevant quotation from The Writer's Almanac, always a good read, from 1 March 2013:

Snow is falling west of here. The mountains have more than a
foot of it. I see the early morning sky dark as night. I won't lis-
ten to the weather report. I'll let the question of snow hang.
Answers only dull the senses. Even answers that are right often
make what they explain uninteresting. In nature the answers
are always changing. Rain to snow, for instance. Nature can
let the mysterious things alone—wet leaves plastered to tree
trunks, the intricate design of fish guts. The way we don't fall
off the earth at night when we look up at the North Star. The
way we know this may not always be so. The way our dizziness
makes us grab the long grass, hanging by our fingertips on the
edge of infinity.
"Report from the West" by Tom Hennen, from Darkness Sticks to Everything. © Copper Canyon Press, 2013.

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