A Morning in the Field: Baseline Documentation in the Winter Months

January 13, 2010. It was a cold and early start. I was working on a relatively small project, just over 50 acres. I estimated it would take me 2-3 hours to complete.

8:00 am: Arrived, 3°, numbing cold. Glad I was well dressed. Minimized exposed skin with fleece neck warmer. Forgot my lunch. Packed an apple, almonds and tea. Decided not to wear snowshoes, boots only. Packed hand warmers for the first time. Hopefully they work. Left them out in the warm car air for 5 minutes.

8:10 am: Documented first corner. Hands very cold. Very, very cold. This must be where the expression biting cold comes from because that is just how it feels, BITING. Hand warmers are not working.

8:20 am: Documented second corner. Moving and warmed up. Hand warmers are actually working and are WONDERFUL!! It is the only thing keeping my fingers from frostbite. I must remove my hands from the warmth of my mittens to write notes for the report. While they are only exposed for a couple of minutes at a time they are numb and have lost some dexterity by the time I put them back into the warmth of my mittens. I must write quickly.

8:30 am: 3° outside still, but warm on the inside. Hot breath rises from within the fleece to warm my nose. Condensation is forming around my eyelashes.

9:00 am: Many critter trails within the woods. White tail, fox, turkey, skis, snowshoes. Clearly loved and used by a number of creatures. Numbing cold 3° in the forest, still.

10:30 am: Finally ascending a little, warming up even more. Probably reached 5° by now. Hands toasty in mittens with hand warmers. I love hand warmers. My fleece neck warmer is rigid from frozen breath. My eyelashes are heavy and coated in frozen steam, my hat, has grown thin strands of ice.

11:30 am: Field work complete, 8°. Entered the warmth of a home with a roaring woodstove. I spoke with the landowner. She sweetly offered tea. Warm by the fire! Thought about staying but I would have had to take off layers if I wanted to be warm later. No time. I am off to monitor Protected Properties. At least I get to use skis. That will really warm me up.

Submitted by Amber Boland, UVLT’s Conservation Mapping and Field Specialist