The DEC warning people to be prepared for any hikes they may be planning. They are asking people to be careful, especially in the Adirondacks where weather could change at a moment’s notice. They also ask they you help maintain the natural beauty of the area by using the “leave no trace” rule. Here is some important information you need to know if you plan on hiking, especially in winter.
Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.
– Learn about the area you’ll be visiting ahead of time; know the opportunities and the regulations. Check maps, guidebooks and websites. Visit state lands near you.
– Arrange to go with a group or at least one other person.
– Know your skill level and physical capabilities-choose trails within your or your group’s ability. Remember it takes more effort and energy to move through snow.
– Days are short-know what time the sun sets and plan your hike so you can return before dark.
– Inform someone of your travel plans-let them know where you are going, your planned route, when you plan to return, and emergency numbers to call if you do not return at the scheduled time.
– Check the weather forecast, but keep in mind that temperatures will be lower, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on mountain summits. Prepare accordingly and postpone your trip if the conditions are too harsh.
– Check trail conditions before hiking.
– Make sure you know how to use a map and compass when planning to hike in remote locations.
What To Wear:
– Base layers of moisture-wicking fabric to keep your skin dry, insulating layers such as wool or fleece, and waterproof or water-resistant outer layers. Avoid cotton fabrics, which hold moisture.
– Thick socks, a winter hat, and gloves or mittens.
– Waterproof, insulated boots.
– Skis or snowshoes, if snow depths are deeper than 8 inches.
– Sunscreen (sunburns occur year-round) and sun glasses.
– A watch or other time-keeping device.
What To Pack:
– Day pack large enough to carry your gear
– Water and high energy snacks
– First aid kit
– Trail map and compass or GPS unit
– Extra clothing, including extra hat, socks and mittens
– Plastic whistle (avoid metal, which can freeze)
– Micro-spikes or crampons for icy conditions
– Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
– Pocket knife
– Trekking poles
– Bivy sack, space blanket and heavy-duty garbage bags for emergency shelter
– Fire starter kit: matches in waterproof container and cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly
On The Trail:
– Keep an eye on the weather-if conditions worsen, head back immediately.
– Drink water regularly; eat and rest often.
– Add or remove layers of clothing to keep body temperature comfortable-overheating and sweating can result in significant cooling and hypothermia.
– Keep track of time and remember it will take you as long to return to your starting point as it did to hike out.
– Turn off cellphones or switch to “airplane mode” to conserve the battery. Do not use your cell phone as a light source, which will drain the batteries. Use the flashlight you packed instead.
– Stay on trails to avoid unseen obstacles covered by snow.
– Use snowshoes or skis in deep snow to reduce injuries and ease travel. Their use also prevents “post-holing”-leaving deep footprints in the snow – which makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.
– When hiking with dogs, keep them to the side of trails to avoid “paw post-holing” as well.
– Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side and move off the trail to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.
– Use caution when on ice over water bodies. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
If You Get Lost:
– Stop where you are. Keep calm and assess your situation.
– Try to determine your location-look for recognizable landmarks and listen for vehicles on nearby roads.
– If you are sure you can get yourself out of the woods using a map and compass, do so-otherwise stay put.
– If you don’t have cell service, move to a location close by where you are visible to searchers on the ground or in the air. If you have something brightly colored, wear it or place it in a conspicuous location.
Problems common to winter may include avalanches, snow squalls, frostbite and thin ice. Except for those who recreate in the backcountry, most people are unlikely to become victims of avalanches. However, almost everyone has experienced a snow squall, which can obliterate vision and create slippery surfaces. Squalls tend to be brief, so stay put if you’re caught in one.