Nothing like hiking in the snow and soaking up the beauty of winter. It’s one of our favorite times to go backpacking and spend time outdoors. Last year, we went up into the GSMNP in January with 12 inches of snow up by Newton Bald. We couldn’t even find the fire ring. With no leaves on the tree’s, We were able to watch a beautiful sunset and sunrise.
A good pair of hiking boots is essential. Feet can get wet pretty quick and ruin a what would have been beautiful hike in the woods. Not only are boots important, but being a little prepared helps also. For example: Hiking in the snow (especially over 5 inches) can slow down your hike immensely. So give yourself time during a day hike to allow for slower hiking.
People don’t think Winter is a time that you would get dehydrated, but not true. Staying hydrated is just as important in the Winter. Your body is working just as hard, maybe even harder since it’s trying to stay warm. You’re burning just as many calories. Makes sure you bring water!
Know the layering system. It’s important that you know how important it is to regulate your body temperature. When you hike in colder weather, you put on more clothes. But you are still creating a lot of body heat. When you are creating body heat, you sweat. Sweat = getting wet. Getting wet and then stopping all of a sudden without the proper gear, can leave you cold and possible exposure to hypothermia.
Be aware of where your hiking. Snow can often mislead you off the trail. When the snow softens towards midday, a snowfield can present an additional hazard. Very often the edges of the snowfield, and even the center, can be undercut by melting, particularly if water is flowing underneath. It’s easy to break through the thin remaining bridge of snow and drop abruptly a foot or more to the rocky ground underneath, endangering your knees and ankles. Tread lightly, particularly near the edge of the snowfield and in low-lying areas where you suspect a stream may be flowing underneath.
Experts say one the best times to hike in winter snow is late winter, around March. Specifically in the Northern regions. National Parks such as Yellowstone, and Glacier Park offer great winter snowshoeing. By March, the snow is more compact, and has more layers.
No matter where you venture out to, always be aware of your surroundings and LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. Make sure you have packed the 10 essentials, and a small emergency kit just in case you loose your pack. Always Plan and Prepare. Know your limitations, but have fun nonetheless.
Boots we recommend. After years of hiking in winter, these are quality boots that will keep your feet dry.
Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot – 400g M-Select warm lightweight, low bulk insulation keeps you warm
Salomon X Ultra Winter Climashield Waterproof Boots – Mud guards and integrated rubber toe caps provide durable protection from winter conditions and rough terrain
We would love to hear from you and your experiences hiking in the snow.