I love winter. I just don’t like going out in it much since I’ve moved to Nebraska. In Missouri on a “cool” day I could still go out for a day hike and not worry about frostbite and hypothermia. Although, this year my home town is getting hit with cold weather and sub-zero windchill too. Now that I live in Winterfell, on a cold day with wind-chill it would be very easy to succumb to both. I know it’s not as cold as other places like Michigan, Wisconsin, or Alaska, but when you go from a cold winter at 35 degree average to -25 plus wind-chill it’s a whole new world.
Right now my thermals are not cutting the cold weather. I should have asked for winter gear at Christmas; snow pants, parka, and gaiters. I did use a gift card and invested in some crampons, also called ice cleats in my neck of the plains. I got a weird look from the salesman; he then asked, “Is that some kind of “feminine item?” while looking for a female clerk to help me. After I explained what I was looking for he got the biggest look of relief, said “ICE CLEATS” in a really loud voice, and helped me find them. Sadly, they don’t help you stay up on slick ground when you leave them in the shopping bag to go move your fiancee’s truck…
So now I’m avoiding the icy outdoors. I don’t like it but at least now my pantry is organized and my office is finally put together the way I want. However, the problem I’m facing now, is I get bored super easy and cabin fever strikes. There is only so many times you can clean and reorganize your house.
The other drawback to living in my part of Nebraska is there’s not a lot of hiking trails. There is a nice one that goes through the city park, a lovely wildness area at the local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge, and a lovely multi-use trail but once you done them all several times you want new ground to cover.
I finally broke down and went down to the other Wildlife Refuge about twenty miles away. It’s a really pretty area broken up by small wetlands and ponds. There also isn’t a lot of hiking trails, the best one goes up to the fire tower. However, my lack of true winter gear made it a quick hike with a lot of shivering. I’ve started a wish list on REI with winter gear.
Since I’m not wanting to brave beyond the wall…of my house, I’ve been researching. Sorry, I make horrible puns about books I’ve read or am reading; like Game of Thrones. I’m thinking about warmer days and putting my feet on a trail for longer than a couple hours. I’m planning my first solo backpacking trip.
Although, Nebraska is not the hot spot for mountains, trails, or backpacking loops, the state is semi-surrounded by states that are: to the northwest there is the Black Hills, due west there is Wyoming, and south there is Colorado. Depending on how far you’re willing to drive you can find a playground perfect for you.
Since this year I have very limited time; I only have two three day weekends. I’m saving all my leave for my honeymoon at the end of October. I have to be choosy about where I hike. If I can swing it I would like to do two backpacking trips. I also want to do a overnight on a river; I probably will try to do several. I love kayak camping.
Because of that limited time I don’t want to drive nine hours to the Tetons or six hours to the Rocky Mountains. I’m looking at a three hour drive to the Black Hills.
In my research I’ve found two places I want to explore; Custer State Park (I’ve explored it before and I’ve having my wedding there) and the Black Elk Wilderness. Black Elk Wilderness is home to Black Elk Peak, formally known as Harney Peak, which I think will be a perfect capstone for a solo trip. I’m thinking I might do my “test” run in Custer, and the main trip be in the Black Elk Wilderness in July.
In the ensuing months I will be tracking my training, research, and preparing for the trips. I will be posting updates as I go. Stay tuned.