Getting outside and enjoying the crisp fresh air in the winter is invigorating. One great way to continue leading an active lifestyle in the winter is to hike. There are benefits to winter hiking. Bugs and heat will not be concerns for you! So, for those who prefer a chill in the air, you can explore more trails and vistas during the winter months.
1. Dressing for the Weather
Layering is a key to comfort and warmth. Though you feel cold when you begin your hike, you will be exerting yourself. So, your body will become much warmer. You want to avoid sweating and getting cold.
You want the layer of clothing that is next to your skin to be made from a wicking material. This wicks or draws moisture away from your skin and keeps you dry. Your next layer should provide warmth. Look for an outer layer that will keep moisture away, such as the material of a rain jacket.
Don’t forget that you need a similar system of layers for your hands as well. Wool socks will provide warmth and dryness. Hand warmers and an extra pair of socks are good additions to your backpack.
2. Winter Footwear
If you are hiking on snowy or icy trails, you need specialized footwear. Depending on the terrain and temperatures, you will want to explore waterproof hiking boots. If your hike will take you through the snow, you can attach snow gaiters to your hiking boots. Gaiters can be stored in your backpack and put on as needed.
In very snowy areas, explore the use of snowshoes. They will allow you to trek through deeper snow and access higher elevations on your hike. Snow shoes will distribute your weight, so you will not sink into the snow. Neither boots nor snow shoes will help in icy areas. You will need specialized traction devices or crampons.
Sometimes it is easier to stay hydrated in the warmer weather because you feel thirsty. Spending time hiking and enjoying outside Walla Walla, you may feel cold and not think about drinking water. However, your body is exerting a lot of energy to hike and remain warm, so you need to hydrate when hiking in the winter. Dehydration is a more common occurrence in the winter than you might think.
Store your water in containers that will prevent freezing!
4. Sunset and the Elements
Winter hikes should start earlier in the day. Remember the sun sets much earlier in the middle of winter. Depending on the canopy or tree covering where you are hiking, there can be dark and long shadows cast in the later afternoon. When the sun sets, the temperature also can drop precipitously. As a precaution, store a flashlight or headlamp in your backpack.
5. The Buddy System
In any season, you should always let someone know your plans. If you are hiking alone, let someone know the trails you intend to hike and the time you expect to return. Winter hiking can create new challenges for an inexperienced winter hiker. Starting out, try the buddy system and enjoy the chill.