SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Summer’s gone, but you still want to hike across Utah’s great landscape, despite the freezing temperatures and icy paths; so how do you do it? Below are eight tips to help you prepare for the winter months.
- Clothing not optional
Your best bet at staying warm and safe is ensuring you have the correct clothes for the winter. Visit Utah suggests what to wear:
- Base layers: A polyester blend is ideal as it keeps moisture away from your skin, especially as you sweat. Then, when you cool down, you’ll dry off quickly.
- Rain pants: This will help you stay even drier as you traverse through muddy or snowy pathways.
- Hiking boots: Get some breathable, waterproof and with a grippy sole.
- Hats and gloves: Last thing you want to do is lose heat from your hands and head. Wear running gloves and a fleece hat.
- Sun protection: It may seem silly since you’ll be dealing with snow and often cloudy weather, but the sun reflecting against the snow can damage your eyes. Be careful and grab a pair of sunglasses.
- Be prepared for emergencies
The American Hiking Society advises potential hikers to have a light, fire, whistle, and a first aid kit. These items should be on a hiker’s person during rain or shine, summer or winter, but it’s essential during frosty months.
- Water and lots of it!
Even when it’s cold, you should pack lots of water. It’s better to have more than you need than less, and if you do happen to run out, make sure you bring a way to purify streams or rivers.
- Check for Closures
This is paramount, especially during the winter months because while many trails and businesses are open during the winter, there may be reduced hours or limited amenities.
- Let others know your location
While this is important in any climate, winter is particularly important because of the potential unknown. There are more frequent unexpected weather conditions in the colder season than in the hotter. By letting others know where you are, it’ll keep you safe in case the unthinkable does happen.
- Consider going with a friend
Hiking can be stress-reducing, especially on your own, but buddying up could potentially help your survival because if something goes wrong, you’ll have someone there to help you. However, if a friend is out of the question, consider how you can be self-reliant. If you plan to go on a less crowded hike, take the necessary precautions to let others know your plan and where you’re going.
- Bring a map and compass!
Consider bringing something other than your phone that you can refer to if you get lost. Your phone may have the ability to do all sorts of things, but it’s better to maintain that battery in case of emergencies.
- Plan for winter driving
Maybe the hike isn’t that hard. Maybe you have all the equipment you need to be successful on your adventure, but what about actually getting to the trailhead? Some vehicles are not meant for snow driving, especially driving deep into the mountains. Make sure your tires are snow-ready and consider driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Be sure both you and your vehicle are well-equipped so you can stay safe.
While Visit Utah says winter hiking can be dangerous, it can also be gratifying. Try something new, but stay cautious and aware.