Getting Dressed

Getting dressed for a romp in the snow can be easy - if you're a Malamute - or complicated, if you're a human.

Malamute Preparation: Pam cooking oil sprayed between the toe pads (which they hate - it tickles); orange Don't Hunt Me! vests depending on season; coupler and leash. And - they fervently hope - lots of treats as rewards for coming when called, or staying put while mom pees or take photos. Lots of dancing, talking, and acting impatient at the garage door while I struggle to attach the leash with gloves on.

Approximate prep time for dogs: 2 minutes.

Human Preparation, for a run: (a) if in the double digits (10F and above): Look outside, determine air temp; think about whether it's a good idea, for example, isn't there a reason to not go, like a lame dog or a lazy human; get dressed - Sporthill X/C tights; Coolmax-type thermal layer long sleeve and high neck top; Sierra Designs 1/2 zip pull-over jacket with diagonal chest/pit zips for ventilation; hat (with brim, if snowing); neck gator to cover chin; gloves; over-mitts; fanny pack (to carry TP, treats, garage door opener, camera, as well as mitts, leash, whatever else comes off as we go); Ironman running socks; Saucony road running shoes w/YakTrax. Or (b) if in single digits or below zero, add to routine above: thermal underwear top and bottom; vest under pull-over jacket; pull neck gator up over nose. And once underway, always keep moving, except for brief stops to let the girls (or myself) pee or poop, or smell something really, really interesting (the girls, not me). Stop too long, and chills set in.

Human Preparation, for a hike: Look outside, determine air temp; no mental gyrations required, as walks/hikes are always good; get dressed - Sporthill X/C tights; long sleeve turtleneck thermal shirt; OR (Outdoor Research) fleece Roses jacket with pit zips open; Helly Hansen Goretex parka with pit zips and lots of pockets to carry treats, garage door opener, camera, leash; OR Goretex Seattle Sombrero with built in ear flaps; neck gator for chin; gloves and over-mitts; Smartwool socks; Columbia winter boots (mens size 8 to accommodate my wide forefoot).

Approximate prep time for human: 15-30 minutes, depending on the level of mental gymnastics required to take the first step out into the weather. Once underway, the rewards ALWAYS far outweigh the initial cold jolts to the system.

Just watching the girls pull with excitement down the driveway at the start of every run, hike or walk, teasing each other with soft bites on the neck while leaping and dancing with joy, makes me laugh and wonder why I would ever consider staying inside when this sort of fun awaits us on the other side of the door.

Winter is merely a state of mind.

[Photo: looking down our driveway, toward neighborhood road; light is flat, so it's difficult to contrast driveway with walls of snow carved on either side by the plow guy, who blows most of the snow up and over each side.]