If you’re a trail lover, the coldest part of the year shouldn’t discourage you from hiking. Many popular destinations, such as Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon, look stunning in winter. With smaller crowds and landscapes blanketed in snow, they offer wonderful views and great memories to all adventurers. But before you pull on your hiking boots and head off, you’d better be prepared. Hitting the trail in winter is a challenge, and those who ignore all the risks can easily end up lost or freeze to the bone.
To ensure you get the most out of your winter hiking experience, read our guide. Check what skills you already have and what else you need to keep in mind.
Plan Your Trip Carefully
Better planners are happier hikers. First and foremost, check the weather forecast – if the snow conditions aren’t stable, consider rescheduling your trip. It can also tell you whether to take any additional gear or clothes. Make sure to know how to use crampons or an ice axe if you decide to bring them with you. Take your time and read about the proper usage and maintenance of your equipment.
When packing, don’t forget high-energy food and snacks. Eat a big breakfast before you leave and bring lunch that is easy to eat as you go. You’ll also need lots of water, sunglasses and sunscreen, flashlight (or headlight), whistle and personal first aid kit. Create a checklist so you’re sure you have all the essentials in your backpack before you leave.
There is no such thing as bad hiking weather, just bad clothes. To make your winter adventure a happy one, choose the right ones. Pick water-resistant, breathable and flexible fabrics. Protect yourself from bad weather with waterproof and windproof outerwear. Put on a brightly colored jacket if you have one – should the worst happen, you’ll be more visible for your rescuers.
Make sure to dress in layers so you can adjust your outfit while walking. Don’t start overdressed though, as you’ll get hot very fast. Excessive sweating in wintery conditions puts you at risk of hypothermia. It’s better to dress less when you start hiking and warm up naturally as you go.
Beginner winter hikers may think drinking regularly isn’t as important as it is during summer. This, however, is a mistake. Your body still needs lots of water to keep warmth and be ready for all the effort. Drink a lot and try not to let the water go too cold. To prevent it from turning into ice, use an insulated bottle sleeve. If you don’t have one, put the bottle in a thick woolen sock or a warm beanie and keep it in your backpack.
If you want, take a warm drink with you. Enjoying a cup of hot tea or chocolate when admiring snowy mountains can warm up both your body and soul. Avoid alcohol, though – it lowers the temperature of your body.
Keep Your Batteries Warm
With winter weather and its low temperatures, your body finds it harder to keep you warm. That’s why eating high-calorie meals and proper layering is so important. Another way to prevent yourself from getting cold is to walk during the daylight hours. Try to start your trip as soon as possible so the sun is still shining when you come back home.
Your devices don’t like the cold either. To be able to take pictures or call for help when necessary, you need to give them some warmth. One way to do that is to keep them close to your skin while hiking. Just put your phone in the chest pocket and switch it off to save the battery. If you plan to camp, you can place your electronics inside your sleeping bag. They will stay warm as you get your well-deserved rest.
Don’t Rely on Tech
Although technology can be of great help when hiking, you’d better know how to cope without it. What if your phone battery dies or there’s no signal? You should revise how to read maps and use a compass. Bring them both in case your GPS stops working. Also, learn the basic SOS signs. This way you’ll be able to find the way or call for help in the worst case scenario.
Telling your plans to other people is also a good practice. Before you go, inform someone about your route and estimated time of your return. Make sure they know who to ask for help when you don’t come back on time.
Ready for Your Winter Adventure?
Changing your environment and getting some physical activity will positively influence your mental health and will allow you to come back to your life more energized and well-rested. Winter hiking is a great opportunity to admire the beauty of Mother Nature in peace and quiet. It will help you get your mind off your worries and problems, and truly relax. It’s even better if one knows how to prepare for a winter hike and how to act on the trail. By following our tips, you can make your trip safer and more satisfying. After all, hiking lovers should be able to fully enjoy their passion all year round; why exclude winter months…?
RELATED READS – 5 Winter Hiking Skills You Need to Embrace to Level Up Your Experience
So, till then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING……………………………………………………
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