Can you tell I'm so happy in this photo because I'm hiking? I wouldn't have been so happy and wouldn't have made it this far on the trail if I hadn't been prepared because I would've fallen. That may look like snow on the trail, but it was all ice. Fortunately, I knew I'd need to wear ice cleats. I'm thankful for my sister's knowledge about hiking & the area, and her advice has helped me so much on top of other advice I've heard. If you're fairly new to hiking, especially winter hiking like I am, I'd like to share a few things today so you can enjoy going outside to play, AKA #hiking.
1. Keep an eye on the WEATHER and let someone know where you're going and when you should be back. Conditions can change rapidly, and know before hitting the trail if any fronts or storms are forecasted. 2. LAYER, LAYER, LAYER! I recommend base layers that can wick away sweat and/or dry quickly. I love having a light down jacket layer and or down vest layer. As you exercise and change elevation or temps during the day, it helps to have layers to adapt. Start hiking a little cool. Frigid temps call for warm socks (wool recommended - I love Darn Tough!), hats, gloves/mittens, and a Buff or balaclava. Waterproof or repellent outer layers and windproof options are highly recommended. 3. WATER and snacks. Stay hydrated. If temps are freezing, you'll need a hydro flask or insulated Camelback because you can't stay hydrated if your water is frozen. 4. GEAR. Comfortable shoes & clothing are a must. Hiking poles are great! They can help with balance and fatigue. I recommend being able to change attachments for terrain. Have a backpack for water, snacks, and layer storage. Gaiters and ice cleats may be necessary on certain trails. Gaiters help keep out snow or debris. Ice Cleats are very important for an icy trail. I recommend spikes, not coils. Hillsound has cleats with an over-the-shoe strap which is great. There's a video with them a few posts ago. 5. Phone. I don't always have a signal, but there are apps that can be used offline for maps. Screenshots of trail maps can be sufficient too. I also use my phone for my camera most of the time.