Some time ago a friend of mine inquired as to whether or not Nature Notes are read in the east. I replied that about half of our copies were sent east and I trusted that they were read.
"Then" said my friend "Write an article on what to wear in the mountains this summer."
Such an article seems apropos for this issue because within a short time visitors will begin to pour into the region equipped in various ways to hit the trails into the high country.
I am not a style critic nor an authority on clothes. Indeed, style need not enter into this article for on a mountain trip comfort is paramount and little thought is given to what the clerk in Abercrombie and Fitch said. More and more are tourists drifting away from the so-called sporting togs for mountain trips.
During my years in the Service I have seen costumes of every shape and hue, from pink beach pajamas to khaki knickers, used on trails. Often I have pondered the peculiar kink which prompts a woman to attempt a rocky trail in high-heeled slippers and silk stockings. And just as often I have wondered about the men who start out on a day's trip encumbered by enough equipment to supply a family on a month's canoe trip.
Everyone has different ideas as to what to wear and undoubtedly there will be many who will disagree with me, but the following is my idea of the type of clothes which should be worn on a typical day when some strenuous climbing is to be encountered.
Footwear is most important. More misery can be given by faulty shoes than by anything else I know. Some prefer laced boots and many wear them. Personally I like an ordinary heavy shoe similar (but more comfortable) to the army shoe. Again some use hobnails. I like a rubber composition sole for rock work, I will admit it is slippery in wet weather.
Sox should be of wool and worn over a light weight pair. Wool socks are not as warm as you think and they take up the moisture. You'll find your feet in better condition at the end of the day.
Opinions differ again on trousers. I think everyone is agreed that they should be of some smooth material. Some like laced trousers while others prefer the straight type. I lean toward the latter choice. Ordinary blue jean trousers are good. They're light, inexpensive and fairly serviceable.
Shirts should be of some fairly light, smooth material. The light weight smooth finish army shirt is good. If you wear a heavy shirt you'll regret it. The high country is warm enough when you are traveling and while the sun is still up.
Most mountain travelers wear a coat or sweater of some kind. I say "wear" with reservation for usually they are carried or tied around the waist. This garment can be one of several kinds so long as it is a protection against the cold if one is caught in the high country after sundown. A light leather coat is good. So is a sweat shirt. Sweaters, as a whole, are not good at cutting the wind, and catch on brush. It is well if lightness and warmth can be coupled with the asset of being waterproof. The latter, however, is a minor detail, for there are always matted clumps of alpine fir that afford excellent shelter from the sudden showers.
The same clothing is recommended for women as for men. Of course there are always some women who insist upon style even at the expense of comfort. These women are the ones who attempt tough trails in high heels. White linen riding trousers and riding boots have no place on a mountain trail. Better sacrifice style for comfort. Your traveling companions will think much more of you. Never mind the looks. Blistered heels and toes are bad things on a trail.
And now a word as to equipment. Why take any? The mountains are friendly and equipment is not only heavy but useless. Take a camera and a knife and a waterproof match box (an excellent one can be made of a small corked vial.) Many take water cups, but I find that water tastes better when drunk directly from a stream. Lie down on your stomach amid get your nose wet. It's more fun than using a cup.
Come to the mountains this year with the idea that you are going to have a good time. Wear clothing that is comfortable even though not "snappy." You'll remember the blisters much longer than you'll remember any satisfaction you will obtain out of being stylishly dressed on the trail.
Dress sensibly, travel lightly and enjoy the deliciously tired sensation that comes after a satisfactory mountain day.
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