Hiking to a Better New Year

Winter can be season where many of us notice a few extra pounds from our “hibernation.”  It can also be an amazing time to go outside and take a hike! Here’s a few top tips to help you start your 2021 nature adventures regardless of the temperature!

  1. Layer your clothing appropriately.  Hiking will certainly warm you up but it’s also important not to overheat.  Make sure your base layer is a sweat-wicking synthetic like polyester or nylon. Cotton will cling and become cold if your sweat too much. Next should be an insulating layer like a fleece or hoodie followed by your winter jacket.  If your jacket becomes too hot, carry a thin rain jacket in your backpack to swap out, a windproof layer will hold heat and prevent you getting cold from a breeze. A backpack can also hold your gloves, hat and scarfs for when you’re too warm or too cold.
  2. Get the right footwear.  Not all boots are created equal so make sure you have a sturdy boot meant for walking if you plan to be outside in the winter. Your boots should be waterproof on the outside to prevent cold wet snow from seeping in and a pair of wool socks will hold heat even when damp. If your feet sweat, add baby powder. Cold toes? Put warmers on the TOP of your toes. Your foot needs to naturally expand in your shoe and those hard, carbon foot warmers will make your feet ache after several miles. If it’s icy, invest in some rubber ice crampons like Yak-Tracks. They’re great on icy surfaces and don’t take up a lot of space in your backpack. (Plus they’re great after ice storms at home.)
  3. Hydrate be for you “die-drate.”  We often don’t realize how much water we lose in the winter between sweating and breathing. Making sure you are well hydrated helps your body thermoregulate and can prevent hyperthermia AND hypothermia. Not feeling well? Take a drink from your water bottle.  
  4. Know when and where to go. Always plan your hike ahead of time. The time the sun sets is just as important as knowing your route and the weather for the day.  Trails can sometimes take much longer in snow or ice and leaving ample time before nightfall is extremely important for safety.

There are so many beautiful winter hikes in Pike and Wayne County, don’t let the winter blues keep you indoors! 

A long-time ski instructor and naturalist, Stephanie Sherman is the Director of Education at Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC). She enjoys winters skiing at Shawnee and hiking in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  For more information, contact PEEC at 570-828-2319 or peec@peec.org.