Winter Hiking 101:
- Extra baselayers – you WILL sweat, even in the dead of winter. And then that sweat will freeze. Not a nice feeling. Which is why at least one extra baselayer can be a lifesaver.
- Buff Headwear/scarf/other similar thing – to blow your nose on, because it will run. And then freeze. But not if you have a Buff!
- Tea – bringing a thermos full of tea in addition to a liter of water was definitely worth the small amount of weight it added to my pack. You almost feel like you’re in a cozy cabin when you’re sipping it, even when you technically should be freezing.
- Proper socks and mittens – frozen toes and fingers are a legitimate issue to be concerned about.
- Lots of other things that I’ve probably missed in this relatively unofficial list, but these are the little knowledge tidbits that I gained from this hike.
After returning from snowy Hokkaido to a bitterly cold but not snowy enough New England, I was yearning to be back out in deep, fluffy snow…and preferably hiking through it.
So some friends and I packed up snow gear (including snowshoes!) and headed out to the Adirondacks for a weekend of winter festivities. The major event of the weekend was hiking up Cascade Mountain. We’d planned on doing Mt. Marcy (the second highest mountain in the Adirondacks) but decided not to risk it since a grim weather forecast isn’t the best for climbing a 5,344 foot mountain. So we settled for the 4,098 foot tall Cascade Mountain.
Not that Cascade Mountain is merely a hike to be “settled” for, of course. I’d done this hike around the same time last year and remembered how great of a hike it was. It was high enough to go above the tree line, and I was dying to get a clear view of the surroundings from the top, which I hadn’t been able to last year.
Turns out, I wouldn’t have the privilege of a view from the top of Cascade Mountain this year, either. But the experience was surreal in a different way. Hiking up to the top of a rocky summit in snowshoes, wind and snow whipping around you forming a solid white wall in every direction. I definitely felt like I’d conquered something – though I was also acutely aware of how easily the weather and mountain could have conquered me in that moment.
Going through these pictures now, I have a hard time believing I actually did that. I’m not a hardcore hiker or adventure seeker by any means, but these pictures make me realize that I’m capable of doing things that a me at a different time wouldn’t believe I could. The fact that I had to keep my phone in my innermost pocket, right next to my body so that it wouldn’t die, is a testament of how crazy (at least, to me) this was. It’s a fun feeling.
The weather did clear up a bit on our way down so we were able to see fragments of the landscape. Not enough to satisfy my summit view desires, though – I’ll have to come back another time. As eager as I am to hike more of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, I have a hard time settling for sub-par views from the summit.