BY ANN PARK
Time to get out the snowshoes and ice axe!
Please don’t tell me you put your hiking gear away until spring? Getting out in the snow is a great cure for the winter blues and the extra Christmas cookies we all ate recently… When you get up into the higher altitudes, you have usually left our dreaded inversion behind. I’ll cross my fingers that we won’t have any of that this year. Our mountains are so beautiful in the winter. Ice crystals sparkle like diamonds in the sun, and the snow on the trees is gorgeous. And there’s nothing like the smell of a pine forest in the winter.
Winter is a beautiful season to be outdoors. And if you’re exercising, it’s easy to keep warm. Remember to dress in layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. What should you wear on your feet? If there is 1-6 inches of snow, your hiking boots will be fine. You can add micro-spikes or ice cleats for extra traction. If the snow is deeper, you’ll want gaiters to prevent the snow from falling down into your boots. In deep snow, use your snowshoes to prevent the inconvenient mode of travel we call “post holing”.
Stay safe in the winter by keeping an eye on the weather. Snow or high winds can severely reduce visibility. Changing weather can also put you at risk for hypothermia if you stop moving. I usually pack a couple of extra pieces of clothing, just in case. Anytime you enter the backcountry, you should be aware of snow conditions and avalanche hazards. Enjoy our mountains safely. I’ll see you out there!