Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter has Arrived Part - 2

Cold and Snowy... I had been waiting for the temperature to drop so that I could dial in my winter camping layers.  In mid or late January I will camp out on the NCT with the goal of capturing the set of falls on the Black River as ice-falls photographed in the midst of their winter beauty.  Something that not many people get to see because of the remoteness of the falls and the harsh travels one encounters in getting to them in the middle of winter.

Always beautiful after the storm...

This area gets a lot of snow.  The culprit is a giant heat sink called Lake Superior... The pic below shows the amazing phenomenon of "lake effect" snow.  These clouds can be hundreds of miles long, originate at a usual node point on Lake Superior, and notice how the clouds are banded!  One can actually drive through blinding snow, sunshine and then blinding snow in the distance of 30 or 40 miles. 

Here's the classic satellite image of "lake effect."

A pic of the trucks that move the snow off of the roads...
A common site now until March or April! Notice the hard packed snow on the road. We drive on this for months!
On with the layering experiment!

My son helped me set up the "shelter." 4F and getting colder...
The January temps range from daytime highs in the 30's to night time lows in the teens.  So if I could set up my sleeping bag and clothing layers for comfort in this weather I should be dialed in for the January bivouac.

Looks like it's time to do some testing in the "shelter."

My sleep system is the US Army MSS purchased as surplus, a Thermarest pad and the layers of clothing.

I spent 4 hours in the MSS wearing one base layer of Under-Armour, a second layer consisting of  micro-wool, heavy felt boot liners on my feet with base layer micro wool socks, a poly balaclava (to minimize the effect of frozen breath) and a wool cap.

The result... toasty warm from start to finish.  One important note though, any twisting in the MSS that leaves the bags stretched tightly against your shoulder will result in a cold spot.  That makes sense as whenever you compress the insulation it will reduce the R-value.  It got down to -2F.

A good experiment. I recommend the MSS. If anybody wonders if it is really a good cold weather system, -it worked well for me in some pretty harsh conditions.  But layering is as important as the MSS.  The MSS by itself wouldn't have been very comfortable. 

Until next time!

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