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Home > Magazine > Woodcraft > Get Cold to Stay Warm

Get Cold to Stay Warm
January 20, 2012

How to stay warm this time of year? It can be tough. But there seems to be a knack to it. The main feature of the knack, as far as I've learned it, is that the first 15 minutes can be real cold and painful ... and that's OK. The key being: don't give up! Don't think "I'm not cut out for this," or that you're dressed wrong.

If you're dressed right for a couple hours afield, when you first head out, it's bad. When skiing my hands really hurt. They sting early on. But I keep at it. The trick is to get a big head of steam up. I get working hard. Move everything. Wiggle tips and toes. Charge steady. After that initial 15 minutes the hope is that you start feeling different. But you still have to keep the faith! Because the next feeling still hurts. It's a dull ache, burn, not so much a sharp sting. Hang in there! In another couple minutes I suddenly find that I'm warm everywhere.

I have no idea what has occurred. The blood has equalized, or something, and is now sufficient to offset the particular temp/wind. And you're good to go. The miracle has happened!

But one can be awfully tempted to give up before then.

If you're overdressed you'll then find that you have to stop and remove a layer. That can be OK, too, if more complicated and less faith-based.

When you ride a bike in the cold the wind is a bigger factor. Make sure you're covered. But, likewise, the first 15 is the "wake up." It's cold and bad. Then you get over the hump.

Remember, far north people split wood way below zero in shirt sleeves.

Everyone is different in the particulars, but I'd think that most folks are similar in their need to "get over the hump" of the initial bad stages. And there are several components. None of which are bad. "Cold" > sting > burn > achy > W A R M .

In the days of my greatest faith -- and gusto -- I could ski at 15F without gloves or hat and a light top.

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