As usual, good stuff here!
Now for a Shameless Plug:
For a chance to test your gear as suggested in the Blog (in winter conditions but a safe place), come to the Mt Rogers Winter hangout.
Lots of experience to draw on, Ample help if you have a failure, close to "Bail out" opportunity, ample winter hiking chances, Excellent scenery & good company round the campfire.
You may even get to see a wild pony or more.