Winter Weather Checklist
Seven Safety Tips for Winter Adventures
Wintertime brings a host of exciting options to adventurers eager to get on the trails in the amazing forests of Brevard and Transylvania County. From more expansive views to ice climbing to a car-free Blue Ridge Parkway, the opportunities for experiencing our natural landscape in a whole new way are many.
Like any season, winter comes with risks as well as rewards. Weather can change quickly. Temperatures drop at higher elevations. Knowing how to prepare yourself for cold weather is a critical component of how you can Leave It Better out on the trail, and it will keep you safe and worry-free on your next cold snap adventure. Here are a few tips so you don’t head out (snow) blind:
CHECK IT OUT BEFORE YOU GO.
Many of Brevard and Transylvania’s public lands operate with smaller staffs during the winter months. That’s why it’s critically important to check on the status of trails, roads and landmarks before you go. Updated information can be found here:
KNOW THE FORECAST.
Understanding the local weather forecast goes a long way in knowing what type of conditions to anticipate. If the forecast calls for storms or dropping temperatures, consider rescheduling a long hike or a camping trip for milder conditions. Waterfalls can be particularly treacherous in winter due to freezing temps and require greater caution. Click here for our waterfall safety tips.
It is generally true that the higher up you get in the mountains, the cooler it is going to be. This time of year, that divide can feel pretty significant between, say, Downtown Brevard and the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is something to keep in mind if you’ll be gaining elevation on your hike or bike ride.
PREPARE FOR THE COLD.
This can be as simple as layering up. Start with a tight fitting, moisture wicking layer, followed by an insulating layer, and ideally topped with something weather resistant. Staying dry is a critical component of staying warm. And don’t forget that it’s just as important to hydrate in winter as it is in summer. So fill up those water bottles!
HIKE WITH A BUDDY.
Having a companion along on your explorations just makes good sense. If one of you becomes injured, the other can seek help quickly. Remember, too, that cell phone reception can be iffy in the wild. And finally, make sure you let a close contact (or two) know where you’re headed and how long you expect to be gone.
STAY ON THE PATH.
Keep to marked trails and and roads and heed any and all rules and posted signs. This helps preserve the forest, aids in emergency help getting to you should you need it, and makes you a good practitioner of trail etiquette. And that’s a great way to Leave It Better.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
Any good adventurer worth their salt knows when to shorten or alter plans or reschedule. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do in the face of a dark cloud is to break out the camp stove and the Swiss Miss for a nice cup of hot chocolate.