Looking back on this past winter's hiking season, I've had a few experiences of been cold or drenched but overall, I've learned a few things out about staying warm that I thought I'd summarize before spring comes and I forget everything. I had some fun with powerpoint and made up my own illustrated guide to winter hiking:
Here are a few comments about each item:
1. Fill up your thermos with a hearty stew, chili, or casserole for a hot lunch. Yummy.
2. It can be 70 degrees down in the valley, but snowing up in the mountains. Get an up to date point forecast for the exact (GPS) location where you will be hiking from this website.
3. Rain pants keep you warm and dry, and also make quite a fashion statement.
4. Attach your emergency whistle to the outside of your pack so it'll be within reach.
5. Make up an emergency card to keep in your pocket when you hike. Write your full name and address, the names and numbers of people to contact in case of an emergency and any medical info or allergies. Mine goes in my small hiker wallet along with my "emergency" $20 bill for those "ice cream emergency" when I get to town after a long day on the trail.
6. Yak traks slip over your books and provide traction on snow and ice. Worth their weight in gold.
7. Cotton is freezing cold when it gets wet. And you will get wet in the winter due to sweat, precipitation, snowball fights, or.... falling into streams.
Most importantly: don't let the cold, wet, snow and ice keep you indoors. Get out there and hike!