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-------------------------Seasonal Reminder: Dress for the weather, not the car.
You can't always avoid the emergency room. But there are simple things to do that can make the best of a bad situation. Click here for tips to deal with trauma (e.g., broken bones, bleeding, etc), chest pain, abdominal pain, respiratory difficulty, and high fever. More info....
Firewood is always a challenge, especially during wet or wintery conditions. Click for a tip...
Always be prepared for survival situations.
Be Safe Out There. Driving to the trailhead, hiking along the trail or bushwhacking and camping in the backcountry need some special techniques and good equipment. Keep your tent, sleeping bag, backpack and other gear in tip top condition.
Safe drinking water is one of your main concerns. Water filters and water purifiers provide safe and convenient water wherever you are.
Be aware of hypothermia whenever in cool, moist windy situations.
So pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear on your pack frame and get out there.
Prepare for winter outings.
You’ll find that during winter, nature offers an experience with a sense of grace and solitude not available during the busy summer months. Even if you’ve been to an area several times during the warm season, it’ll be completely different in the cold season.
The price of winter season serenity does incur the cost of potential dangers, some of which can be the ultimate cost. But there is no need to panic because you can deal with the elements with some careful planning to have a safe outing.
The most important tool is the one between your ears. So plan ahead.
After a few day trips just to become familiar with the elements, try an overnighter. Any trip into extreme elements will need some advance planning.
How many people will be going? What are the road and trail routes? Before you leave find out what the likely weather conditions will be – and take them with a grain of salt. Try to find out how much snow will be on the ground, what time the sun sets, and other local conditions.
It’ll be easier and safer if you use a checklist for supplies and preparation activities. You can find several recommendations, but you’ll eventually tailor one for your own particular needs. You’ll want to account for everything: clothing, shelter, food, water, and personal equipment.
The most important thing to remember about clothing is LAYERS. Ironically, during cold weather one of your biggest problems will be how to avoid sweating. You lose much more body heat when wet, whether the wet comes from the weather or the body.
Wool or synthetic material is very much preferred over cotton or jeans. Blue jeans have been called the clothing of death because of their chilling effect when wet. Keep your head warm to keep the rest of your body warm. A ski mask or balaclava makes for a versatile headgear. Socks are included in the clothing layer scheme. Sock liners help under wet or cold conditions. Gaiters really help keep snow out of the boots and greatly improve foot warmth.
You’ll quickly learn that mittens are much warmer than gloves. A well-ventilated, weatherproof outer shell is vital as a wind breaker and rain protector.
Sunglasses or goggles and sunscreen are at least as important in winter as summer. The snow magnifies glare and can result in snow blindness. UV rays can give a quick burn of the skin.
When you decide to take on a more extensive winter expedition, shelter is one of the most important considerations. A tent is will work, but snow caves and igloos can be more comfy. Dome tents shed snow well and give a dry place to stow gear. Condensation can be troublesome if not well ventilated.
Never cook in the tent because of carbon monoxide poisoning dangers, and the aforementioned condensation.
But do eat! For some reasons appetites tend to diminish during wintertime action, but the body actually needs more fuel than normal. It’s also vital to keep hydrated, even if not particularly thirsty. Of coarse water freezes easily in sub-freezing temperatures so some thought needs given to finding water. It can be found beneath the frozen surface of a stream or lake. That water will need purified. The best way to do that is by boiling it for three to five minutes (increased by a minute for each 1000 feet if elevation.) Filtration pumps can freeze, and chemicals are not effective at colder temperatures. Ice and snow can be melted over a stove, but that takes more fuel (more weight). Never eat snow because it really saps energy.
Nothing (except the space between your ears) is more important for winter camping than your sleeping bag. Get one rated lower than any temperature expected. Down stuffing will be warmer than most synthetics if it gets wet. Mummy vs. rectangular shape is mostly personal preference. Some think mummy shape is warmer (and lighter) but rectangular can have additional air space (insulation) to keep the feet warmer. A ground pad (at least half an inch thick) adds greatly to warmth with the bonus of a little more comfort.
If snow is expected to be more than ankle deep, snowshoes or cross-country skis better be the mode of transportation. Only the most fit athlete can trudge more than about one-half mile in knee-deep snow.
Now that you’ve given some consideration to the basics, just know that anything can happen when dealing with Mother Nature. So be prepared for anything.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park get good advice: “There are dangers inherent in wilderness: unpredictable wildlife, changing weather conditions, remote thermal areas, deep snow, open streams, and rugged mountains with extreme avalanche danger. When you choose to explore Yellowstone, you experience the land on its own terms; there is no guarantee of your safety. Be prepared for any situation. Carefully read all backcountry guidelines and regulations, and know the limit of your ability.”
Read the last phrase again “know the limit of your ability.” You need to know not only what to prepare for, but what to do when the unexpected happens. Accidents happen, equipment fails, natural events sometimes are un-natural and the norm can be vicious.
So, basic beginners advice that pertains forever: Don’t travel alone, bring a first aid kit, and, before leaving, be certain to inform a friend or loved one of the destination and expected time of return.
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