For most of us, when the snow starts to fall in the mountains, we hang up our hiking shoes and let them collect dust until the following summer. (Guilty!)
But what if we could brave the white weather and learn to enjoy the beauty of winter from within the mountains, and not just look at them from afar? We decided to interview two of Hikrlife’s biggest contributors to winter hiking and we are excited to tell you three tips they shared with us on how to hike in the snow:
Plan Out Your Hike Specifically
You NEVER want to go out into the mountains in the winter, especially alone, if you don’t have a good idea about what the conditions will be. Jennifer Fuhrman, one of our avid winter hikers, said, “I choose every hike I go on by pretty specific things. I choose the day, place, and times that will have the least amount of people and crowds. Weather is a factor as well. If it’s rainy and clouds are covering everything, I choose waterfalls or lake hikes typically. If it’s sunny and clear out, I try to get as high as I can to see everything. My main concern is to have complete silence and be left alone.” When you have these specific plans set in motion, then you can be reassured that you did your part to make the most of the hike. If you get to the trailhead, and the weather looks bad and you gut feeling is to leave, go with it.
Avalanche Danger: To Be Worried or Not to Be Worried?
The number one thing most of us think about on the mountain when the snow is deep is, should I be worried about avalanches? Maddie Stanger, who’s hiked about two times a week this season, said, “It crosses my mind occasionally but is definitely not something I’m really worried about with the trails I go on!”. Jennifer agreed but also said, “Come spring time I usually am more cautious if I’m on the mountain. You don’t want to think about the bad stuff, but it’s a factor for sure. I try my best to prepare, check weather updates, and watch my surroundings a lot. If you’re in mountainous snowy terrain this time of year and you notice the sky changing, may be smart to head back. When those white clouds roll in, they cover everything! You’ll get lost out there. Always check those weather reports!”
Bottom line? Be prepared, be cautious, and once again, go with your gut.
The Best Winter Hikes to Start With
So you know how to prepare now, but where should you go? Maddie suggests Adams Canyon, Lake Blanche, and Waterfall Canyon. Especially if you’re a waterfall chaser, Maddie highly suggests these, because you will see a FROZEN waterfall. Epic scenes to take in!
If you’re wanting to travel a bit, Jennifer highly suggests Mount Rainier. “I drive all the way to the top of the park, which is called Paradise. With an elevation of about 5,000 feet, it really does hold true to its name. There’s so many trails and a variety of what you want to see. I’ve gone countless times, but every time is unique in its own way. I’ll never get tired of exploring there.” And we all know, you can never go wrong with visiting the beautiful state of Washington.
Our Final Tips
We can’t stress enough how important it is to dress warm! Bring weather appropriate clothing. Most importantly, you need to have a good pair of waterproof boots, with wool socks. If your feet get wet while hiking in extremely cold temperatures, you risk getting frostbite. Bring a water bottle, and take your time going up the mountain. The cold will be a little harder on your body than you’re used to, so don’t get worried if it take extra time to get up the mountain.
If you’re thinking about getting serious with your winter hikes, we also suggest picking up a pair of traction cleats. When it gets icy, even the toughest of boots can start to slide. These handy little slip-on grips will minimize slipping and will provide the best traction in the worst of conditions.
Thanks for reading! Comment below with any thoughts or questions. Tag us in your Instagram or Facebook pictures or use #hikrlife, and let us know how your winter hikes go!