Sunday, September 27, 2020

Hiking in Pants

 It was A's 50th birthday and she was not happy. She had planned a vacation that wasn't happening due to Covid, and even a party was off limits (nobody felt OK about being indoors. I personally have not been in anyone's house except for my parents' since February). The weather was unsettled too, so her plan of having her pilot friend fly her across the mountains wasn't happening either.

"You don't want to...backpack, do you?" I tentatively inquired. The sullen clouds didn't promise a warm evening. Any rational soul would politely say no. "I want to wake up in the mountains!" she replied, and so we packed at the speed of light.

Due to work meetings, I couldn't leave until late afternoon. This negated any attempt at the washboarded Lostine Canyon road, which takes forever to drive due to the teeth-clenching, car tire destroying surface. We settled on Bonny Lakes, fairly close in (and I am naming this lake because it is well known and not a secret; durable campsites exist). 

A chilly breeze at the trailhead sent me reluctantly to pants. I hate wearing hiking pants, but it was too warm for leggings and not quite warm enough for a hiking skirt--that fall in-between time that makes you pack a ton of layers. Due to the 40% chance of rain in the forecast, I had upped my wet weather game, everything wrapped in dry bags and ziplock bags. A had brought hand warmers. We were set, and off we went.

It's only four miles to the lakes, and a pretty easy hike. It is often done as a day hike, but you work with what you have. When darkness falls at 7, it is a good choice. We made it to the upper lake in under two hours and set up in time to watch a feeble attempt at a sunset. Elk bugled from a short distance away. The night was quiet and still. Also? I was glad I had brought pants.



Water was frozen in Ruby's bowl in the morning, another sign that we are pushing the season. Another unmistakeable sign was the snow falling on us. While it wasn't accumulating, it was enough to get us moving; we had decided to tack on a day hike over the pass to a small tarn. Stashing our packs, we set out over the pass and into the teeth of a brutal wind.

The wind gusts made it difficult to remain upright, and after some appreciative gazing at the view, we quickly retreated. The hike out went quickly and we arrived at the parking lot to see two men and  a boy getting ready to head in, unfortunately clad in cotton sweatshirts. "Tonight is going to be the worst night!" they exclaimed cheerfully. 

I guess I've become sort of a fair weather backpacker, because I knew I wouldn't be heading out into the snow and wind. But these were the kind of tourists I don't mind. With a warning not to ascend the pass until the wind decreased, we went our separate ways. I wasn't sad to be heading back to a warm house, but I'm not ready to give up on hiking yet. Even if it has to be in pants.

12 comments:

  1. I, too, detest long pants and have been known to wear shorts during winter. Of course we go south for most of winter but come home to Southwest Colorado for a month and a half around Christmas/New Years. The trick is to only play outside in the snow on calm sunny days. :)
    mark

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    1. It definitely can feel warm at high elevation in the sun. But,I am not that brave!

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  2. I love how you got organised so quickly. I love the thought of waking to snow falling on your tent. I don't have a dislike of pants but I dislike the fact I have to wear them throughout our hot summer as protection from snakes, leeches and ticks. The latter however managed to deeply attach itself to my left shoulder. Even the Doctor had great difficulty digging it out.

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    1. Eek! That sounds horrible. Ticks are not my favorite things.

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  3. Now I’m even more interested in hiking skirts! I do love leggings though!!!

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    1. Hiking skirts rock! I like Purple Rain adventure skirts.

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  4. I'm a year-round wearer of long pants or leggings. I have the sun-tolerance of a vampire, so it must be so. But I live for those cloudy 45-degree autumn afternoons when I can slip into short sleeves and a running skirt and just fly.

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    1. hahaha tolerance of a vampire. My legs are definitely scarred from my mishaps.

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  5. I nearly always wear long pants when hiking, not only as a sun shield but to protect my legs from insect bites and prickly plants and branch scratches.

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    1. smart, but I feel so confined. Definitely I'm not looking forward to giving up my skirts for pants this winter.

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  6. It's hard to believe it's fall already. Even though I hiked quite a bit and enjoyed many new trails, I feel like summer was just getting started. For now I guess we say "Bring on the fall colors."

    If it wasn't for you recommending hiking skirts to me, I would have never dreamed of hiking or running in them. Now I prefer hiking in skirts too. I'm usually only found in hiking pants in the evening or when bugs are bad (I can't wear bug spray). I wear my hiking pants more for work than hiking or camping though. Love that they are water repellent, dressier, and more comfortable than scrub pants.

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  7. i Mary, I don't wear hiking skirts but, when I do hike I wear pants with zipper legs on them just in case. It's amazing that you have seen snow already and we haven't seen any here in Alaska except on the Mt. tops but, the rains we are experiencing wipes the snow out. Glad I found your blog again.

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