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Rick Brockway

December 13, 2013

Winter is great, but always be prepared for the worst


For the more adventurous souls, head to the Catskills and climb one of the many peaks. The leaves have fallen and the views can be breathtaking.

When hiking in the winter, you must be prepared. As you know here in the northeast, the weather can change rather rapidly. Wear several layers of clothing. If you get warm, it’s easy to remove a layer so you don’t sweat. Wear a hat and bring sunglasses. The bright sun reflecting off the snow can be very unpleasant. If you get too warm, you might just remove your hat. After all, there is tremendous heat loss through the top of your head. Removing your hat can cool your whole body.

When the snow starts to get deep, use snowshoes or cross-country skis. It’s far easier than walking in deep snow anyway. Besides that, the people who ski or snowshoe the trails don’t like to work around post holes left by inconsiderate hikers. Snowshoes or skis are required on the Adirondack trails if the snow is more than eight inches deep.

Drink plenty of water when you hike, too. Even in the winter, you easily can become dehydrated. I also like to carry plenty of snacks. Some quick energy always helps after hiking for a couple of hours.

A few years ago, a couple of friends and I decided to hike the Bennett, Middle and Murphy Lakes Trail in the southern Adirondacks. It was an early winter day with a good forecast. With only a couple of inches of snow on the ground, there would be no snowmobiles to contend with.

We left Creek Road for the 7-mile hike to Pumpkin Hollow, where a friend from Wells would meet us and take us back to our car. By the time we got to Middle Lake, there was a total white out. Snow and cold blew in from the north.

It took an hour longer than planned, but it goes to show that you must always be prepared. Weather can change in a heartbeat. Let people know where you’re going and have everything you need, just in case.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at

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