Monday, January 31, 2011

This is not a Patagonia ad...

...but it really could be. They're just that awesome, Patagonia, that they inspire me to write about them unpaid. (Not that I'm one to shy away from writing things no one asked for.) Of course I refer to Patagonia, the company, not Patagonia, the region which I really, really, really want to visit. For the weekend of January 29-30, I had to settle for the high wind-swept mountains of Korea.

Brian and I got our first taste of Korea skiing at the High1 Resort. It's a pretty new place, in Gangwon province (north of us), sort of near Taebaek. The mountains were beautiful and our hotel was nice, kind of an Overlook-hotel type feel, minus the murderous Jack Nicholson character - and our staff all seemed to be fully alive. The resort, which includes several hotels and mountain condos and whatnot along its windy roads, is pretty new (new enough to not even be mentioned in my 2004-05 edition of Lonely Planet Korea), and government dollars have helped build it. Gangwon Province used to be all about the mining, but now there's not so much mining, so they're all, "I know! Tourism!" Lo and behold.

Well, I'll tell you what, it was COLD up in them thar hills. I love me some skiing, but frigid winds whipping at your pummeled face and even the occasional ski-lift sway are another story. My toes and one or two fingers refused to stay warm, despite their layers. I totally had to tuck inside the mid-mountain hub building for an afternoon churro snack. Yes, you read that right: churro! I was only too delighted to see that is what High1 Resort decided would be the perfect mid-ski pick-me-up.

But here's the thing: even when I was freezing, and every part of me felt the fierce icy air, my arms and upper body did not. Why? Because thanks to Patagonia, I own the warmest shirt in the world. I totally bought it from their website on sale - was it clearance? I should hope not! - the other year, to have something warm to run in. I bought two of their Capilene long-sleeved outdoor sports shirts in fact - one Capilene level 4 and one Capilene level 3. I promptly discovered that I could go running in the Michigan or Chicago winter with only the Capilene 4 shirt for my top half layer. (Hat, gloves, etc. of course ... but no additional shirt layer needed for the run.) I'm telling you, it's the warmest shirt in the world. The even lighter Capilene 3 shirt is good for cool days, rainy runs, and not-quite-the-coldest-day-in-the-world runs. I adore both shirts and can't think of a better purchase I've made recently. I was reminded yet again on the ski lift, while every part of me felt the cold except the part that was covered by the warmest shirt in the world.

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