Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Winter Hiking Part 1

Winter Hiking

With this post, I'm starting a mini-series about winter hiking.

No matter what your activity is, every outdoor enthusiast who gets "out there" during the cold season must adapt to cold weather conditions. Otherwise he/she may face some unnecessary risks.

It's obvious that there's cold and snow in winter. However, there are also a number of additional factors influencing your trip.
  • You'll need more and different clothing than on summer trips.
  • A warmer sleeping bag if you plan a multi-day trip.
  • Your food and nutrition needs to be different. The body will burn more energy in cold weather conditions and therefore needs more fuel.
  • The backpack will be heavier due to additional gear you'll need.
  • Travel distances will be (sometimes significantly) shorter, depending on snow and weather conditions.
  • Trails may become invisible, challenging your navigation skills.
On the other hand, winter trips have their advantages too.
  • Less crowded hiking areas.
  • No bugs.
  • Bears are hibernating, except you travel in polar bear habitat.
  • In addition, you can travel to places difficult to reach in the summer. Just think about marshy areas.
Of course, these short lists is far from beiing complete. But you get the idea.

I did winter trips and winter camping all my life. It's part of regular outdoor activities. Still, many people think it's best to spend winter on the couch in an (over-)heated house .They believe one must be pretty tough to sleep in a snow cave, igloo or tent in the winter.

Not true! If you prepare yourself well, winter hiking trips can be a wonderful experience.

Click here for "Winter Hiking Part 2 - Hypothermia".