Growing up at sea level on the coast in Florida, my idea of the high life was crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near Tampa.
Enter Kelly Lake and the promise of monster golden trout and cutthroats.
"The hike isn't that bad," one of my friends said, breathing life into what I now consider one of the great understatements of all time.
It's a four-mile hike through the Colorado State Forest to reach the serene hideaway where Kelly Lake is nestled, secluded from the wider world. To get there you must hike up one mountain and back down the other side; through a valley with rock fields and creeks; then up and over the saddle between two peaks, above the tree line at more than 11,000 feet; finally, you traverse a boulder field and cross back down the opposite slope to get lakeside.
It's no joke, even when the weather is cooperating.
We did it in a snowstorm.
I was dressed to move at the outset, when I was still optimistic about the weather, with a TNF (The North Face) VaporWick™ tee and my TKA 100 Fleece 1/4-Zip Pullover. We worked up a sweat, moving with a purpose on the ascent from the trailhead.
By the time the first snow fell and the temperature dropped, I had sweated through both layers. But that's the beauty of TKA 100 Fleece. It keeps you warm even if it gets wet and it's breathable — so it dries quickly while wicking moisture away from your body so it can evaporate, keeping you feeling fresh for the next switchback.
The North Face developed TKA Fleece — short for Thermal Kinetic Advancement Fleece — to offer free-moving insulation and professional-grade wear resistance with the superior thermal efficiency of high-performance microfiber fleece, a pill-resistant 100% polyester fabric with shape-holding durability and proven endurance.
When put to the test it performs as advertised. And it's a good thing too, because the weather on our trip up to Kelly Lake went from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.
The snow intensified. We couldn't see more than 100 yards in front of us. The saddle we had to cross was out of sight, obscured by an onslaught of fat snowflakes blowing sideways in the wind. All we had was the trail and the promise of hungry trout.
There was no going back.
I donned my Cabela's GORE-TEX® PacLite® Rainy River™ Parka and Pants
over my TKA 100 Fleece to ward off the snow and wind, and together it was all I needed to make it through the storm in relative comfort.
The lightweight TKA 100 Fleece didn't weigh me down or limit my movement, nor did it bunch up in the straps of my 60-some-odd-pound pack as I made the ascent. Where some mid-layers sap your strength with cumbersome bulk, TKA fleece is barely noticeable when worn. It's brushed for softness and doesn't chafe at all in my experience.
Zipped down, it let me cool off quickly without shedding layers.
Compressed, it packed easily and weighed next to nothing.
Layered or next to your skin, it breathes and transfers moisture to keep you dry.
By the time we made it over the boulder field and down to camp, my Vaporwick tee and the TKA fleece were virtually dry. I threw the TKA pullover next to my sleeping bag and an hour later it was dry, crisp and ready for its second tour of duty. It didn't leave my back until we got home Sunday.
I couldn't ask for more from my TKA 100 fleece. It performed on its own and layered with a GORE-TEX shell. Its inherent thermally efficient construction provides breathable insulation during high-impact ascents and it amplifies your body's natural warmth while relaxing by the campfire. It also has a sleek look that's great for around town and going to class. As an all-purpose fleece, it has very few equals.
Cabela's offers a full line of The North Face TKA fleece. Click one of the links below to purchase a TKA fleece for your next adventure.
The North Face TKA 100 Glacier 1/4-Zip Pullover