Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Winter Hiking Tips

Piper Mountain

I'll admit that the first two months of winter are pretty fun. As you may have read in a previous post, we get some mountain sledding in and a little bit of winter hiking. Here are some of my top ten favorite tips.

Bring Extras

Bring extra hats, extra mittens, extra water, extra base layer, extra everything. When conditions get dangerously cold having back ups becomes crucial. I've had hats fly off on top of a mountain (for real!), water bottles freeze shut, or my feet get soaked enough times to always carry extras.

Put Hot Water in your Water Bottle

Put hot water in your water bottle for day hikes and overnight trips. Hot water will take longer to freeze as you hike during the day. Also, it's great at keeping you warm in the tent.

Insulate your Water Bottle

Insulate your water bottle with either a zip water bottle insulator or with an old pair of wool socks.

Put your Water Bottle in Upside Down

Are you sick of water bottle tips yet? You can see where my main concern goes in the winter. If you put your water bottles in the sides of your backpack put them in upside down. This keeps the screw-on top away from the elements, which keeps it from freezing shut.

Bring an Extra Camp Stove or Food

I went on a group backpacking trip up Mt. Madison once and only one stove out of five worked. It sucked. It would have sucked even more if we had only one stove to begin with. Cold, really really cold weather can cause even the best stoves to have problems.

Avoid Getting too Hot

When your freezing your buns off you want to be warm right? Me too, but the trick is keeping yourself from becoming too hot. If you get too hot, you'll start to sweat and even if dressed appropriately being soaked in sub-zero temperatures stinks. I like to keep just a little bit chilly vs. hot and sweaty on my hikes.

Undress Quickly

If you are stopping for an extended period of time, it doesn't hurt to get out of your wet or slightly damp clothes as soon as possible.

Start Early

Start really really early. Almost every good size winter hike should start in the dark, because inevitably something will take longer than expected. Longer drive, longer hike, deeper than expected snow. It's better to be in the dark when you are still feeling fresh, both mentally and physically than when you're tuckered out.

Keep an Eye Out on the Summit

There are a thousand reasons you should be keeping your eyes peeled on the summit. The one I'd like to point out for winter hiking is to keep an eye on the trail that you summited on. Winter- the snow and ice- makes the tops of even familiar mountains look foreign. Add a few dozen tracks leading this way and that and you might just wander back down the wrong side of the mountain. Let's stay away from doing that one.

Abide by the Ten Most Common Hiking Rules

I'm not sure I've ever posted about these. You'll have to check back in for those. Hey, did you know you can subscribe to my blog via email? Sign up to the left. Thanks for reading!


SS:Mtn Biker said...

These are good tips for winter mtn biking as well as hiking :) Great post!


bettymountaingirl said...

Thanks so much!

Hiking Lady said...

Excellent tips! I love winter hiking too, and even snow camping. It can get extremely cold out there! Hand warmers and toe warmers are definitely on my packing list.