From our friends at the Green Mountain Club:
WATERBURY CENTER, Vt., February 16 – The Green Mountain Club and Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation today encouraged winter hikers to enjoy Vermont’s mountains but to take extra caution in preparation for icy conditions.
The Green Mountain summits are unusually accessible this winter due to low snowfall and sunny weather. The trails are easier to follow and uphill hiking is easier without the state’s usual snowpack.
“Tired of cabin fever? Go take a hike! But hikers should be aware that a serious winter challenge remains: ICE. And ice plus gravity makes a rough combination,” warned Dave Hardy, Green Mountain Club director of trail programs. “Please be prepared for winter conditions. Even unseasonably warm sunny afternoons this time of year are followed by dark cold nights.”
Hikers should follow these helpful tips from the Green Mountain Club and Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation:
Traction: Hikers should have some traction while on ice: creepers, crampons, stabilizers, micro-spikes, hobnails, etc. Always check them out in the comfort of your kitchen for broken parts, overstretched bindings, bent buckles. Also when hiking with them on your feet, check them out occasionally for failure; you don’t want those things to fall off your feet while crunching along an icy slope. Crunching is important: be certain your grippers are imbedded in the ice with each step.
Warm Clothing: Dress in layers of warm clothing and bring extra clothes just in case. An extra wool shirt and hat don’t weigh much and can make a real difference when the temperature drops. Also, hikers should try to stay dry – unzip or remove layers to minimize sweating on the uphill portion of your journey. You will not generate much heat while descending so dry clothes will help you stay warm as the sun drops lower in the sky.
Eat Well: Hikers will need those extra calories that you normally try to dodge indoors. Bring that second chocolate bar. Always carry enough tasty food to stay fueled during your hike. More crunching: be aware that some foods freeze in winter conditions. Just like eating something directly out of your kitchen freezer.
Hydrate: Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel as thirsty in the cold weather.
Flashlight: While the days are beginning to lengthen, it still gets noticeably darker when the sun does go down. Bring a flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries and bulb – the lack of snow reduces the soft glow of evening light so it will seem to get dark sooner. And with our icy trails seeing where you are stepping is pretty important.
Communicate: Try not to hike alone and always let someone know where you are hiking just in case. A charged cell phone is always a good idea, but be aware that it may not have service in the woods. If you have a trail emergency, please call 911 and be aware of where you are so you can give accurate information should you need to call. Enjoy Vermont’s trails year round, and take care so you’ll want to visit them again.