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This hiker’s Christmas list

  • What’s in your winte backpack? COURTESY PHOTO


Wednesday, December 13, 2017 5:20PM

The bustle of Christmas is all around me as I write this month’s column and I haven’t been in the woods in far too long. My most recent foray took me onto part of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway with my side-kick Brooke to cut some greens for decorating. She didn’t understand why I was cutting and piling evergreens. She thought they were sticks and grabbed the ends, dragging them off, sprinting along the trail with the boughs bouncing behind her.

It was a cold day, with a steady breeze, but the ground was bare. We weren’t wet, yet by the time we got into the car with all my greens tucked in the cargo, Brooke and I were chilled. She curled up in a ball on a blanket on the back seat, nose tucked under her tail.

I hate feeling cold. But I love winter. I can get cold on an 80 degree day if a breeze hits my sweating back and neck during a hike. I realized if Brooke and I were going to do any sort of distance hiking this winter, we needed some layers of warmth.

So, my Christmas list includes what I call my “comfort items” to keep a winter hike enjoyable and safe for both of us.

A Microfleece pullover, with a half zip front. Microfleece’s dense fabric is brilliant for wicking away sweat, but keeping a hiker warm at the same time. I have one that fits snug against my skin and I can layer over it. I want another one in the next size up for even more layering options. In neutral-color black. Please.

A new buff. My buff of the last 2 years has had multiple functions, all of them comfort-related. It has wiped sweat off my neck, dried my tears on a glum day, kept my hair pulled back, and been dipped in a stream and used for a sponge bath. But it is ragged and faded and lost some of its stretch. I’d like to retire it with great memories, and start with a new one. Multi-colored would be great. Thanks.

Socks. Always socks. I like the thick ones that offer padding and are sweat-wicking. I need them to replace ones that I’ve left at camp sites, hanging to dry on tree limbs. Or, to make up for the one that burned a hole through a toe when it too was drying, a bit too close to a camp fire. Size medium fits just right.

Brooke would like some comfort items too. She is short-haired and thin skinned, and has a bit of an entitled princess personality. She loves to hike with me and trot along the trail sniffing the air or the ground. But she gets chilled easily too. So my list for her includes a fleece-lined jacket with a moisture shedding outer shell. In pink. Of course.

I think Brooke could also use some booties that will protect the pads of her feet from ice, or from snow packing between her toes. Last winter the ice balls in her feet caused her great annoyance as she would stop every few yards and try to chew the snow out from between her toes. I’d like the booties so she can stay comfortable across all sorts of footing. Also in pink. Of course.

I’m looking forward to when Brooke and I can get on the trails this winter for a few short hikes. I have my winter day pack ready to go with my safety items in place: a lighter and miniature stove with fuel, emergency blanket/bivy, hand and foot warmers, snacks, extra socks, gloves and hat along with high-visibility items. I hope my family reads this column before Christmas so I can add some of my comfort items to my pack too.

Lisa Hoekstra finds solace and life-balance along trails and in the woods. For comments or suggestions about hiking or trail-running, she can be reached at lisamhoeks@gmail.com .