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Testing my "Chill Skills" as I continue to work my sections south.

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This past weekend I decided to try out some of my gear and techniques for cold weather hiking while grabbing another few miles in my sectioning southbound. The temps were forecast to be in the teens and did not disappoint! I parked at the I-66 trail-head parking at Manassas Gap and hiked south an easy 3 miles to the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter. The I-66 parking is very nice with a great trail head on the AT. I brought 2 sleeping pads with me. One is the closed cell foam Therm-a-Rest Z Lite (R 2.6) and another is a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm inflatable (R 5.7). It is suggested that 2 pads are carried for very cold weather. An inflatable, although comfortable with high R value, can deflate and leave you in a risky situation, so a closed cell foam backup is also needed. Combined, they provided very good insulation (R 8.3) from the cold ground. My sleeping bag was a BOG Standard Kelty Cosmic Down 21. My tent is a 2 person North Face Talus 2. With temps outside around 9F overnight, the tent held temp around 18F with me inside. Between the pads and the sleeping bag, it was just barely enough to stay warm. The addition of my Sea to Summit Aeros Premium inflatable pillow, cheap base layers, mid layer, and a hat kept me warm/comfortable. Problems I encountered were cooking after stopping hiking and setting up the tent. These were difficult because I had to remove my gloves for those tasks and it was wicked cold! I’m glad a brought a Zippo hand warmer, as that made for quick recovery after those tasks. All my water froze. I knew this would happen ahead of time, so I filled my cook pot the night before (Thanks Tipi) to make it easier to cook in the AM. Because it was so cold, I did not explore the site as much as I normally do and did not locate the spring. The guide says it was a little ways (few hundred yards) south. I’ll find out when I continue south on the AT…hopefully this weekend.