Lair O’ the Bear

It was a chilly weekend to be hiking through the snow and ice. I don’t think it was the temperature as much as the looming clouds and wind. It just felt a little darker than usual.

While some might have turned around once they hit the parking lot, we decided to give it a whirl. We had a dog and a seven year old in tow, which made for some laughs along the way. You had to be careful though, there was a lot of thick ice on the trail. I bought crampons after this hike, and I don’t think I’ll hit anything during the winter without them in my bag. A good set of walking poles really helped, but I’m sure many of you have cat like reflexes. I do not.

The hike was pretty much washed with snow the day I went out. It was pretty, but once you’ve seen snow covered rocks and frozen streams, you start to move a little faster along the trail. My hike slowly turned into me looking at my feet and where I would step next. Watching out for thick ice and exposed tree roots.

It wasn’t long before thoughts of cold days in the middle east started creeping into my head. Yeah, it gets really cold over there. There were those months where it would rain and just get really cold. The frigid moisture would seep into everything. The water would turn to slush and the mud would get deep and cling to everything. I remember going on patrols with mud caked to my knees and boots practically frozen. My fingers felt like icicles. God forbid I actually needed to use my weapon. I don’t think my fingers would have worked. As bad as the “suck” would get, there was always someone that would make you laugh.

Here I was “coasting” along on the trail with my sorel winter boots. Nice and toasty. Not the army full leather combat boots. Those boots had a way of turning into thirty pound, water-logged, trench foot inducing, leather foot coffins. Enough about that… and my winter boots.

My hands were cold and my cheeks were bitten a couple times with the wind, but it wasn’t anything that made me want to head back to the car. It didn’t even compare to those miserable moments all those years ago. We were only gone a couple hours, before we found ourselves back at the car. The whole trip was less than five miles. Even better, I returned to a car with heated seats and warm air blowing from the vents. Can’t beat that. Times have changed. Even when hikes don’t go as planned, they are still pretty great. Maybe it’s a change of perspective. Either way, it feels good to get out and be reminded of how good I really have it.

Army issued Ice Box . . and no armor. Good times.

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