Noob Question about Hiking in the Snow

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#21
Y'all perform a super valuable service in triggering all the avalanches so we can walk around safely, thanks for that!!
While I'm certain that you are not serious, it is worth noting that in the popular Calgary day trip destinations of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country over the last 5 years- hiker and snowshoer avalanche fatalities outnumbered skier deaths-7 versus 2.
 

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#22
While I'm certain that you are not serious, it is worth noting that in the popular Calgary day trip destinations of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country over the last 5 years- hiker and snowshoer avalanche fatalities outnumbered skier deaths-7 versus 2.
Yes, I wasn't being serious and I've also had my ski tracks messed up by snowshoers, and hate that.
Utah avalanche fatalities (including one a few days ago-- yikes!!) are heavily skewed towards skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers:
https://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanches/fatalities
 
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#23
I checked alltrails. There usually isn't recent reviews where I go though. There was one review for the area, and he snowshoed. I wish alltrails had a messaging feature so I could ask how deep it was. :)
It's probably a little stalkeresque, but most of the accounts on alltrails are pass-thru from Facebook accounts and I've messaged people on facebook after seeing their posts on alltrails. Sometimes they actually respond.

I'm probably parroting someone else's post but snowshoes and microspikes are really all the 'specialized' gear you need (outside of obvious clothing choices to stay warm). Spikes weigh so little there's no reason not to carry them for if/when the trail goes icy in the shade. My wife's snowshoes weigh a whopping 3 and a half pounds so again not so burdensome to lug around, but certainly something that could be left in the trunk if you arrive at the trailhead and determine they aren't needed.

Don't forget sunscreen stuff. Sunburnt lips are a special kind of personal hell to endure.
 

Miya

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Thread starter #24
It's probably a little stalkeresque, but most of the accounts on alltrails are pass-thru from Facebook accounts and I've messaged people on facebook after seeing their posts on alltrails. Sometimes they actually respond.

I'm probably parroting someone else's post but snowshoes and microspikes are really all the 'specialized' gear you need (outside of obvious clothing choices to stay warm). Spikes weigh so little there's no reason not to carry them for if/when the trail goes icy in the shade. My wife's snowshoes weigh a whopping 3 and a half pounds so again not so burdensome to lug around, but certainly something that could be left in the trunk if you arrive at the trailhead and determine they aren't needed.

Don't forget sunscreen stuff. Sunburnt lips are a special kind of personal hell to endure.
That is a clever idea, even if it is a little 'stalkeresque' haha! However, I don't have a Facebook.

Yeah, I am guessing I will need to invest in some snowshoes after this weekend. I am just going to make a bold attempt without them for this trip, since I can't hit a store before Saturday. :) Microspikes will be in my pack, for sure!

Oh yes, sunscreen, didn't think about that! It will probably be sunny and in the 50s this weekend. I never go anywhere without chapstick. It is my essential cannot live without item. 2 in my purse and car, a bulk pack at home, 1 next to my bed, 1 in every backpack I have even when not in use, and 1 at my desk...I think that is all. LOL
 

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#25
Don't make the same mistake I did several years ago when I was in your shoes! I headed out on a warm winter day (probably low/mid 40s and sunny) with just microspikes, and told myself I would just turn around if snowshoes were needed. The snow was hard packed and microspikes were perfectly sufficient... until about 4 miles in, when the afternoon sun hit and the snow started getting really soft. Post-holing my way back was one of the most brutal, and probably one of the more dangerous, hikes that I have done. Keep in mind that snowshoes may not be needed in the morning, but may be needed later in the day! (that sounds obvious, but somehow I didn't think through that carefully!)

Some more tips (I haven't read all the feedback here yet, so maybe these have been covered):

-It's all about layering, not about having a single warm coat/layer. If you get too warm, then you will sweat more and then that becomes dangerous if you stop or if the wind picks up. Experience will help you figure out the layering that works for you. Avoid cotton.

-For me personally, I don't need a lot of layers on any particular part of my body, but I do need to cover everything. The most challenging part is the face. I have both a balaclava and a buff and alternate between them depending on how cold it is. I would recommend having at least a balaclava though.

-My biggest on-going challenge in the winter is keeping my glasses/sunglasses/goggles from fogging. This is not only annoying but also dangerous. Cat Crap seems to help (you just wipe it on beforehand). I cut the mouth hole in my balaclava bigger and that really reduced the fogging. The downside is that more of the skin around my mouth is now exposed. I rub some vaseline over that skin before heading out, in attempt to add a blubber-like effect.

-Gaiters work wonders

-Hiking poles are awesome year-round, but are especially important in winter (use snow baskets with them). Costco sells good ones for fairly cheap.

-I use my light pair of glove liners more than my heavy mittens. Once I start hiking, I really warm up and don't need much on my hands most of the time

-Don't tie your boots too tight, and don't wear super-tight socks---looser fit will improve circulation and keep your feet warmer

-Don't forget sun protection stuff! I've forgotten my summer hiking hat (sun hat) a few times on winter hikes (because I was so focused on the warmth layers), and during warm parts of the day I really regretted it. Ditto for sunscreen, and especially sunglasses. Get some sunglasses with good peripheral coverage.

-Hydration tubes will freeze. Bring wide-mouth bottles (I often bring gatorade bottles or the like). Turn them upside down in your pack (after making sure they are sealed tight!) so that if they start to freeze, you can still drink from the mouth of the bottle. I usually put a few in my spare wool socks for extra insulation. Bring plenty of water!

-Wind is much harder to deal with than cold temps. Choose days that aren't too windy, especially if you'll be out in the open or above treeline. Use weather.gov to check the forecast---click on their hourly report link for wind predictions.

-Stick to avalanche-free routes, at least until you really know what you're doing! Make sure you really know the route before heading out (much more important than in the summer). I would recommend getting a gps app on your phone if you don't already have one. Again, getting off-route can be much more disastrous in winter than in summer.

-Finally, I would highly recommend starting small. Everyone is different when it comes to keeping warm and happy in the winter, so you shouldn't go buy a bunch of clothes/gear that someone else swears by---you need to find out from experience what will work for you. Just grab some microspikes and head out on some local hike when it is kind of chilly and see what part of you gets cold. For my wife, it is her toes. For me, it is my face (while keeping my glasses from fogging) as described above. For some people, it is their hands. Anyway, just get out there on an easy local hike, and address whatever the biggest shortcoming seems to be, then go out again and repeat, and you'll gradually figure out what works for you and you'll build up your confidence and work your way up to longer hikes in colder conditions. I'm still pretty new to this and am continually learning how to do this winter hiking thing, but the more you do it and tweak your approach/gear, the more fun it gets!
 

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Thread starter #26
Lots of good advice! Thank you!
So things changed a little. I am still going Sunday. One of my direct reports (also first time) wants to come, so at least I have a partner. We both bought some clearance snow shoes that seem adequate for testing this out!
I will really have to invest in Cat Crap (worst name...) for my glasses! I have only had a fogging incident a couple weeks ago when it rained FOREVER. I just ended up taking them off and hiking without.
 
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#27
Don't worry, I am going to a hiking trail. Not a place where people can ski or snowboard.

You might be amazed at where you find people with skis on! I know I have been on some rough trails that you would think are only hikers or people snowshoeing, only to run into someone doing their best ski attempt on it. Of course I have also seen some people hike up the trail, and then ski back down off trail on fresh powder. I always want to ask them how many trees they have hit... :cool:
 

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Thread starter #28
You might be amazed at where you find people with skis on! I know I have been on some rough trails that you would think are only hikers or people snowshoeing, only to run into someone doing their best ski attempt on it. Of course I have also seen some people hike up the trail, and then ski back down off trail on fresh powder. I always want to ask them how many trees they have hit... :cool:
Well, I would hope they don't get mad at me for leaving snowshoe tracks on a hiking trail. I gotta go somewhere too! Haha
 

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#29
Well, I would hope they don't get mad at me for leaving snowshoe tracks on a hiking trail. I gotta go somewhere too! Haha
Generally snowshoe tracks help consolidate the snow for hikers, especially on trails in deeper snow. It is just not good to snowshoe on pistes that are specially groomed for skiing.

Did you make it out into the winter world this weekend?
 

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#30
Generally snowshoe tracks help consolidate the snow for hikers, especially on trails in deeper snow. It is just not good to snowshoe on pistes that are specially groomed for skiing.

Did you make it out into the winter world this weekend?
Yes @Miya - I was wondering about that too, where is the "Happy-Miya-in-the-snow" photo ?

To @Ugly 's point- we attempted to hike a week ago, 2 days after a big storm. A few people with snowshoes had been on the trail (NOT used for cross country skiing), but just not enough people to consolidate the snow well. It was very difficult and unstable to walk on and we had to return early. We should have had snowshoes on. Here is Rick trying to balance after stepping just a few inches off the semi packed trail....

Rick-snow-IMG_6878.JPG
 

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Ugly

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#31
Yes @Miya - I was wondering about that too, where is the "Happy-Miya-in-the-snow" photo ?

To @Ugly 's point- we attempted to hike a week ago, 2 days after a big storm. A few people with snowshoes had been on the trail (NOT used for cross country skiing), but just not enough people to consolidate the snow well. It was very difficult and unstable to walk on and we had to return early. We should have had snowshoes on. Here is Rick trying to balance after stepping just a few inches off the semi packed trail....
Or one can do this if you step off trail... (Did not get a picture a few minutes before this where I stepped off and up to my waist- thus the wet butt. My friend was laughing too hard.)
This time I had stepped off to take a pic in a different spot and only went to my knees.
IMG_5425.JPG
 

Titans

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#32
Or one can do this if you step off trail... (Did not get a picture a few minutes before this where I stepped off and up to my waist- thus the wet butt. My friend was laughing too hard.)
This time I had stepped off to take a pic in a different spot and only went to my knees.
View attachment 74638
Ha....that's funny, great photo! You guys are hardcore- going out in the evening. That's a lot of snow, great view.
The snow rarely builds up that much here: 2 days later it was +48F and pouring down all day followed by a quick freeze at night to make everything icy.
It looks like life is more fun in SLC. :cool:
 

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Thread starter #33
Generally snowshoe tracks help consolidate the snow for hikers, especially on trails in deeper snow. It is just not good to snowshoe on pistes that are specially groomed for skiing.

Did you make it out into the winter world this weekend?
I went! I LOVED it.
Uploaded all my photos, trip report to follow soon :)
 

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