RiseVT strongly encourages people to get out in nature and move regardless of the weather; don’t let snow stop you from exploring all those fun and exciting trails! Over the last month, I have met a handful of New Vermonters who are experiencing snow for the first time. I can’t even imagine… I grew up with snowfalls up to my waist! Whether you know your snow or are just now developing a relationship with it, here are a few thoughts I have shared with my new friends:
Be an Onion: No, don’t make me cry, just have lots of layers! Wearing multiple layers of wool or a wicking fabric (made from high-tech polyester) will allow you to regulate and adjust your temperature while you are out in the elements. With multiple layers, including a windproof layer, your body heat will get trapped in the layers and build a buffer of warmth around you. If you are out taking a simple stroll, you may generate and trap less heat than if you are hiking or playing. Being able to unzip a layer or remove a layer when you are too hot will help you keep a neutral body temperature. Overheating will cause you to soak your clothes with sweat that will cool off quickly once you stop moving. If you get wet, it will be difficult to warm back up.
Cover Up: Even if you have heat trapped in layers keeping your body warm, any areas exposed to wind and snow can give you a chill. Pull the cuffs of your gloves up over your sleeves to ensure your arms are covered. Have a scarf or buff around your neck to stop wind from snaking down your back, or to pull up over your face. Wear a headband or hat to cover those ears!
Know Your Snow: If you are unfamiliar with what an area looks like during the warmer months, it will be hard to know what obstacles are lurking under that blanket of snow. If it is hard-packed, walking should be fairly easy as you are just dealing with the uneven or slippery terrain of the trail. If the snow is still loose-pack and you sink in with each step, your foot could become lodged under a log, or slip off a stump or rock. Try to test the footing before putting your full weight on it. Deep snow, in which you sink to your knee or beyond (post-holing) can present a complicated and exhausting walk, and load your pant legs and boots with snow. If you can, try to choose a path that has been traveled, or wear snowshoes or gaiters.
Ice Can be Nice: A thin layer of snow over ice covering a pond or stream-bed is often very flat and gives you a clue that there is ice below. If you have a walking stick or ski pole, you can poke the snow and ice to try to determine what is under the snow, or if the water is frozen enough to hold your weight. Try to avoid fragile ice- getting your boots and socks wet will make it difficult to stay warm. If the ice is frozen solid, you should still pay close attention to your footing as loose snow over ice can be more slippery than plain ice. Test your footing before applying your full weight to it. Wiping out can ruin your fun.
Play, Play, Play!!! More than anything, just get out in it! Walk, slide, make snow sculptures, and taste it (just the untouched snow!) Snow that comes down in different conditions has different consistencies, textures and qualities. The best way to learn about it is to play in it. An even better way to learn about it is to play in it with an experienced child (they will teach you everything you need to know) and then tell us all about your experience on our Facebook page!