February 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Get Up and Go!

"...having your gear organized makes one less hindrance to getting out in a timely fashion and taking advantage of a day's opportunities"

By Karen Denison

At Home Outdoors

Karen Denison is owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing guide service, a former biologist, and a shameless admirer of the outdoors.


This month has been a season of contrasts so far. We started out with more "normal" weather, snow for snowshoeing and the expectation of more. Then, we were miraculously transported to the tropics—at least by comparison to the previous week. Temperatures rose near 50 degrees here in Santa Fe, the snow melted and the ground dried at lower elevations so that we were hiking in places that would normally be inaccessible in January. Three days ago, a front left over a foot of new snow in the mountains and by tomorrow we're told it will be back to 50 degrees. Crazy!

This sort of roller coaster pattern is tough on a lot of things, especially if you're trying to plan outdoor excursions.

Cultivating flexibility is a key element in continuing to enjoy the outdoors under these circumstances. Wearing layers is essential. Having the right gear is great. But having your gear organized makes one less hindrance to getting out in a timely fashion and taking advantage of a day's opportunities.

In my home, I keep a couple of "go-bags". My winter go-bag duffle has a couple of winter-weight hats, gloves, hand warmers, snow gaiters, my Gore-Tex overpants and an extra wind jacket. There's a water bottle and granola bar—petrified, probably, but there just in case. Ski goggles and heavy mitts also dwell somewhere in its depths. When I skied more, the bag had various do-dads for those outings that routinely swam around in the bottom. Come warmer weather, this duffle will go back to the bottom of the closet, but for now it's seeing regular use.

If I wake up—as I did this morning—and feel compelled to go out in the snow, most of what I'll want at the trailhead is already in one place. One less hurdle to getting out and I'm so much less likely to be uncomfortable on the trail because of an item left behind.

The sky was blue, the snow brilliant white, and I was grateful to have had my mitts. What would you put in your go-bag?