4. Do things Fast and keep essentials handy
When it’s cold, my natural reaction is usually to try to sneak deeper into my clothes and endure. I have to keep on myself to stay active, move quickly, and remember that work = warmth. After riding the runners and running all day, it’s amazing how much warmth I can get from doing camp chores like gathering spruce boughs and firewood. It is important to know what chores need to be done and just keep moving.
It seems like most of the difference between tasks seeming easy and impossible comes with good preparation. Whether it’s cold or not, I try to travel with “extra” and essential items quickly accessible. I keep 2 pairs of spare wool liner gloves, an extra face mask, chap stick and a fire kit in the pocket of my anorak, so I can easily change into spare items throughout the day. When it’s really cold, even simple tasks like digging something out of the dogsled can become daunting, so we work hard to keep lunch, the thermos, dog coats, lines, camera, puffy down jackets, spare mitts and other items that we expect to need during the day organized and in containers that are easy to open, at the top of the sled bag.
This goes for food as well. While the idea of slicing cheese sounds very appealing on a summer’s day on a gravel bar, the idea of using a knife and baring your hands is not so ideal on a cold day. For really cold weather its best to cut everything- cheese, butter, etc. into bite-sized pieces ahead of time and pack them in a container that is easily opened. I draw a line with some foods: banana bread is delightful when it’s above -20 but a chilly brick when it’s colder…dipping it in hot tea is nice. Cookies, crackers, dried things are easier to eat in the cold. A hot thermos and hot soup is a must, just don’t tighten the cup lid or it will freeze shut and you’ll have to bang it to break the ice loose.