Clothing Optional

posted Mar 14, 2012, 4:41 PM by Paul Wagner
Nope--sorry, it's not about nudity on the trail, although we are following the discussions of an international hike naked day that are working their way through some of the forums...and no, we won't post photos.
This is more about what you carry in your pack, and what you wear.
Every time we start a hike, we talk over what we are going to wear on the trail.  M is someone who likes to stay warm and is usually cold, at least in the mornings.  She layers on every available layer of warmth, and still gets cold hands and feet when she is hiking.  She frequently wears warm clothes on the trail when the temp drops below 60. She will wear an undershirt, shirt, fleece, and jacket hiking uphill in 50 degree weather.   And her hands are still cold.   That's her, bundled up at left. complete with hat, scarf, and gloves.  And freezing.

P, on the other hand, is someone who gets warm just walking on a level trail, and usually hikes with little more than a single shirt and pants, even when the temps are quite cold.  On our last snowshoe adventure, he was hiking along in just his normal single layer shirt, and was feeling quite comfy.  And his hands were warm--so warm that we stopped a couple of times so that he could wrap them around poor M's freezing fingers to get them to warm up.  (She was in gloves, he was bare-handed.)   If P wears any more clothes than this, he starts to sweat---and once his shirt gets damp, it's no fun at all in the snow!
Hilary and Norgay on Everest
But then we stopped for lunch.  M sat down happily on a log and started to chew away.  She was happy, warm, and hungry.  P immediately threw on every piece of clothing, including both a fleece and a down jacket.  And within minutes he was shivering--cold enough to get hypothermia.  He bolted his lunch and started to move around, just trying to get warm. 
M happily finished her lunch at a sedate pace and announced she was ready to start walking.  And so we did.
Within a couple of minutes P was warm enough to throw off his down jacket...and the fleece came off a few minutes later.  By the time we got back to the car, he was back down to his single shirt, and warm and comfy.  Go figure.
That's us at right, above Dodge Ridge a few years ago, trying to find the perfect combination of sun, snow, clothes, and warmth.  

Clearly body temperatures are just another area where your mileage may vary!