Being Prepared for Winter in the Open Space
A change in the weather during warmer months can be a minor inconvenience, while being caught off guard in the winter has the potential for severe consequences. Always let someone know where you will be going and your estimated time of arrival back home. Checking the forecast before going out can better prepare you for these conditions. Hiking, snowshoeing or skiing up steep foothill trails can be exhausting and cause you to work up a sweat even in frigid conditions. Dressing in layers can prevent overheating and allow you to better adapt to changing conditions.
The heat produced from exertion can be deceiving. If an extended stop is necessary due to an emergency or from exhaustion, the body can quickly become chilled and can lead to medical emergencies like hypothermia. Avoid wearing cotton clothing. Cotton takes a long time to dry and could lead to continual cooling of your core temperature. Wool base layers are a good choice during the winter because they have the ability to thermo regulate even when wet. By using finer wool fibers like merino wool, wool garments are less itchy and perform better than the wool of old. An extra layer like a windshell can trap extra heat while sedentary, block the wind and can be easily packed away while on the move. The fine balance of exertion and your body’s attempt to maintain a certain core temperature can burn a lot of calories. Bring plenty of water and high energy foods on your winter outings. As we all know, the sun sets early in the winter months, so if you leave in the afternoon for your outing give yourself plenty of time to return before dark.
• Dress in layers. Lightweight thermo regulating baselayers made of wool or synthetic fibers. Include a hat and gloves.
• Wind and water resistant shell
• Plenty of high calorie food and water
• Survival kit with a fire starter, space blanket, whistle, first aid supplies and a source of light to navigate if you find yourself out in the dark.
With proper preparation and adherence to a few simple guidelines, winter is a good time to get out and enjoy the trail system. If you have any questions regarding trail conditions or any Open Space matters give the Ranger staff a call at 303-979-1876, ext. 170.