Hiking is such a fun activity! But just because it’s fun doesn’t mean you won’t take any necessary precautions before embarking on this type of adventure.
But you know what more fun is? Winter hiking!
People often get intimidated by the thought of trekking during this season. Well, you shouldn’t be because, despite the cold, hiking during the winter is a rather thrilling activity that will give a different experience of a lifetime.
If you hike with a friend or a family member, you have each other as a helping hand in case anything unfortunate happens.
A companion can make a hike easier since you have each other to rely on when you feel like you’re losing the track. The same thing goes when the other feels a bit under the weather, and the other one can look after him or her.
That’s the value of having a hiking buddy. It lessens the risk of unwanted accidents because you have someone beside you whom you can trust in case anything happens.
Check the Weather
Weather advisories are often accurate and are readily available on the internet or other media platforms. These advisories are important to be vigilant about because this is where you will know whether to push through with your plans or just to reschedule it some other time when it is safer to hike.
Aside from the weather, you also have to consider precipitation, wind speed, daylight hours, and possible avalanche reports.
Winter can be very unpredictable, and hiking in such conditions may (or may not depending on your condition) take a toll on your health and safety. Proper research is vital for your preparations.
Start Your Trip Early
During the winter, the sun goes down quickly, making the days shorter.
If you plan to hike during this season, starting early means you get to at least reach the peak before sunset. Hiking in the dark with the given weather condition during the winter is a recipe for disaster, especially if you are not well-prepared for it.
In case the hike is really long, and you have no other choice but to meet dusk in the middle of the trail, you better have a headlamp ready with enough batteries to last you for days.
Pro Tip: Lithium batteries work better in this condition than alkaline batteries.
Bring Safety Gear
To avoid risks of hypothermia, you should be wearing the right kind of clothing for a winter hike. Normal jackets won’t save your body from the cold. There are certain types of a jacket like thermal ones which are perfect for this condition.
Aside from your wardrobe, you also need a first aid kit, a compass, a multi-tool, warming packets, and a headlamp. Walking sticks are also as important. It’s a safety gear that can help your legs find its balance when the trails get tougher and tougher.
It’s better to be ready than regret it once you’re in the middle of the snowy terrain.
Be Aware of Avalanches
This is the reason why you should always be aware of the weather condition on the days during your hike.
An avalanche is a natural occurrence that no one can stop or control. An avalanche may happen if it recently rained, snowed, or the wind is too strong. That means the snow on the mountain is less stable and is likely to come tumbling down right before your eyes.
To avoid this disaster, research is the first thing that you should do in planning for this trip. Learning how to play things by ear can save your life.
Dress in Layers
Just because you already have a thermal jacket doesn’t mean you won’t wear anything underneath. Dressing in layers can help you combat the extreme cold weather, and then top it with the right kind of jacket.
However, overdoing it may cause more harm. Make sure to limit the number of clothes that you will layer up according to what feels comfortable for you. Too many layers can trap the sweat that can eventually make you feel even colder.
Check the Trail Before You Go
There are advisories that will let you know if the trail or the mountain that you want to hike is open during the winter. That’s because there are some trails that are closed during this time because of the avalanche risk.
Checking the trail of your choice before you go is one way to ensure that you have every reason to prepare. You don’t want to waste time doing some warm-up and shopping for thermal jackets and safety gear only to find out that the trail you want to take is closed for a week because of the weather.
Again, we will always go back to the importance of research right before your trip.
Stay Hydrated and Bring Enough Food
It may not be obvious, but the winter season can dry up our body easily than during the summer. You don’t want to experience dehydration during your hike, so you have to load up on water from time to time.
If you’re lucky enough, you won’t have to bring several bottles to hydrate you during the trip. There may be some clean spring waters along the way where you can refill your own bottle.
However, not every hiker isn’t made for hunting. So bringing some trail mix or granola bars will give you the nutrients that you need.
Running out of food during a winter hike is a nightmare you wouldn’t wish for anyone to experience.
These tips will help you decide whether winter hiking is for you or not. But if your adventurous soul is really up for the challenge, then go for it. Just be extra careful. No one was harmed trying to be more cautious about trips like this, so it won’t hurt to train and prepare for this activity properly.