Kathy, Day Hiking Ambassador
1) Check your gear twice before you start out for the trailhead. Not too many things worse than driving for hours into that glorious powder only to find you forgot to put on your trekking poles “snowflakes” or the zipper on your wind shell is stuck! Of course, your Tubbs’ Snowshoes are ready to go!
2) Dress in layers but remember to start a bit “cold”. The activity level of even strolling in snowshoes on more or less level ground will raise your body temperature quickly. If you are too warmly dressed, you will end up sweating and ultimately chilled. An extra layer – down vest, fleece mid-layer – in your backpack can be quickly added if needed.
3) Depending on the terrain (flat to hilly) and your speed (2 to 4 mph), you will burn between 400 and 1000+ calories per hour. Who snowshoes at 4 mph? <pant>
4) Drink lots of liquids. All that activity will dehydrate you more quickly than you will notice. Hot liquids are nice but not necessary, alcoholic beverages are not so nice. Really! Alcohol will speed up dehydration and will lower your ability to feel the cold and speed up hypothermia.
5) Know where you are going and make sure others know where you are going and when you will be back. Leaving a note in your car at the trailhead with that same information is very useful in an emergency situation. Don’t depend on your cell phone for emergency assistance. Take a buddy with you for safety and for more fun!
6) Take a topo map/GPS/compass and know how to use them. Be especially observant on the trail even if you’ve been on it before. In the snow, the landscape totally changes and familiar landmarks of the summer may be hidden or look totally different. Take the time to look back down the trail the way you came to familiarize yourself with your return route. Stay on the trail!
7) Know your limits! Don’t push beyond your comfort zone. First time out, a 10-mile technical hike might not be the best idea. Work up your endurance level. Remember – “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” Ed Viesturs – my Hero!
8) Keep your cell phone and your digital camera (and any other battery-operated device) in an inside pocket of your jacket, close to your body. The cold will suck your batteries dry a lot faster than usual.
9) Take an extra pair of warm socks (cold, wet feet are a drag) and an emergency space blanket (can be wrapped around you/ under your jacket/used as a ground cloth or shelter), extra batteries/headlamp with you in your pack along with some extra snacks. Should you get delayed, these items may become very useful and take up very little room in your backpack.
10) Be safe, but not paranoid. Enjoy the views but pay attention. Soak up the silence but laugh out loud! HAVE FUN and get out there AGAIN!