Thursday , December 10, 2015 - 1:17 PM1 comment
In the course of my work as a fly-fishing writer, I find myself spending a lot of time on the water during the winter. I love fishing in the winter, but I’m not sure if I grew to love it out of necessity — or if I always held an affinity for the way fishing changes when the weather turns.
Regardless, the point is that I am consistently out in the mountains on cold-weather adventures. Be it a late-season elk hunt or fishing rivers ringed with ice, I’ve had my fair share of trips in weather that most people opt to avoid.
But with the right preparation, some basic knowledge and a desire for adventure, you can go out and have a blast in Utah’s mountains during the snowy months of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the best tips for doing just that.
The biggest complaint people have is staying warm. While it’s easy to buy a big down jacket, snow pants, boots and some beanies, that’s not always the most effective way to stay warm in cold weather.
Even though it’s the most simple outdoor tip there is, it’s worth mentioning: An efficient layering system is the best way to stay warm and dry during the winter.
A great layering system will look something like this:
In addition to making sure you’ve got the right layering system, you want to make sure you’ve got a great pair of waterproof boots. When your feet are warm, it is easier to be happy.
An important thing to remember about your boots: Don’t lace them up too tight. Tight boots make it harder for your blood to circulate, which in turn will mean your feet get colder that much quicker. Make sure you’re wearing wool socks, and you’re set for a good day of staying warm.
Now, if you plan on camping out in the snow — which isn’t as unpleasant as it sounds — there are a few other things you need to be aware of.
First, winter camping can be incredible. There are no crowds, and most important, no bugs.
The landscape takes on a different personality when it’s covered in snow, and there’s a certain solitude when camping in the winter that just can’t be achieved other months of the year.
If you plan on camping in the snow, you’ll need the following essentials:
Obviously, that’s not a comprehensive list, but those items will make your winter camp much more enjoyable.
The other common concern with recreation in the winter is staying safe. Avalanches are an obvious concern, as is frostbite, hypothermia and getting lost.
Again, I’ll return to the most basic piece of advice: Tell other people where you’re going, how long you plan to be gone and when you’ll return. Honestly, that alone can mean the difference between life and death.
Staying warm will also go a long way in being safe while out in the snow. Always carry hand warmers, matches and some sort of fire starter. I personally like to use the lint from the dryer trap as my fire starter — it’s light and catches easily.
In the end, staying safe while on late-season trips boils down to common sense. Keep a calm head on your shoulders, think logically and don’t overreact. If you can do those three things, you’ll enjoy a wonderful time out in the snow.
Spencer Durrant is a writer and fly fisherman based in Utah. He writes the monthly Trout Bum column for the Standard-Examiner, and contributes regularly to Hatch Magazine. If he’s not on the river, he’s at home tying flies or writing. Connect him on Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant.
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