Monday, November 12, 2007
Last Saturday I sat up in my tree stand and watched the snow come down hard. I was about 15' up in a balsam tree, two miles as the crow flies from Lake Superior, holding on to a cold bow while I awaited the arrival of the trophy buck. He did not arrive and sitting motionless in the snow is not particularly conducive to staying warm. Nonetheless, my hands were nice and toasty in my thick wool trigger mitts. Its not quite that simple when you're paddling this time of year.
Tommorow is our 3rd annual Gales of November paddle and I need to figure out which hand warming system I'll be using. Even though you are moving and working it seems like your hands are invariably wet. Paddling with a Greenland stick does not help matters at all, although simple 'O' rings, laying smack on the Bayfield Peninsula in the photo, eliminate 85% of the drippage and don't really inhibit needed sliding strokes all that much. You do still need to keep your hands warm however. My favorite is still my pogies, near Devils Island on the map/photo. You do need to take your hands out for any extended paddle work but you can still feel the warmth of the wood and take advantage of having your fingers together to keep themselves warm. They do get wet however. In the lower right hand corner, covering Ashland and the Bad River Reservation, we have the nice loose neoprene gloves made by Chota. Good gloves, easy on and off, but its very easy to get water sloshing around inside. Another pair of curved finger, velcro wrist banded Chota gloves, are seen in the Brule/Port Wing area of the picture. These are a major pain in the ass to get on and off and almost impossible to turn inside out to dry properly. Woe be it to the paddler who forgets and puts these on before securing their spray skirt. Finally, up in the BWCA/Quantico area we have the NRS 'Titanium' neoprene mittens. While your fingers are in contact with one another and warm these things are as difficult to get on an off as the curved finger gloves. Even after you gnaw your second mitten on, using your teeth to pull it on and secure the velcro on both the mitten and your dry suit, chances are good you will still get water inside.
My conclusion: Stick with the pogies. Most of the time your hands are on the same spot of your paddle anyhow and it just feels right to have your hands on the wood. Differing and controversial opinions are welcome.