The Value of Layers

We have to be layered for the hike up the mountain in winter: the clinging undershirt, the tee-shirt, the long-sleeved shirt, the sweater, the fleece, the jacket, the gloves, the hat, the scarf, the sunglasses, sunscreen, and a bell. Only with each part of the upper body protected from sun, wind, rain, sleet, snow, and ice can we be ready for all winter weather conditions, and the sweat and cool-downs of our own body heat. The bell is to sound the alarm for encroaching animals, such as a moose.

The undershirt is old-fashioned, but our grandfathers always wore them, so probably we should. The tee shirt is a more modern day affair, but it protects the shoulders a bit better. If we have biceps, it covers them. Long-sleeved shirts make me feel covered all over, like when everyone else is freezing, I’ve been smart enough to wear one. Now sweaters. Cashmere is the warmest, and does well when wet–thought it’s not good for the sweater. The fleece, soft and fluffy breathes, handling well the heat up and cool down of the body. The jacket zipped up, or removed and wrapped around the waist, is the most essential portable skin. Without it, the wind can eat your bones, the rain can drench you, the sleet and ice can ping and stab you, and the snow can freeze you.

Gloves mean I can still have hands to use after the hike; hat means I still have ears; scarf means I still have a neck; sunglasses keep my eyes; sunscreen my face– especially my nose; and the bell. Ah, the bell. Have you ever hiked and come suddenly upon a moose’s butt way higher than your own head, and wished you hadn’t been so stealthy, but had been swinging your warning bell?

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