In this second post about winter hiking, I need to address one thing from last time. I’d said one of the rewards of winter hiking was losing weight. In this case, however, body weight should not be lost by eating normal nutritious meals. One must eat extra carbohydrates and fats. What’s more, don’t stop for lunch–keep moving and snack, snack, snack.
Proteins take days to metabolize and fats take hours, but simple carbs metabolize quickly. Energy bars, gorp with candy, cookies and crackers, all give quick energy. This is what to snack on during the day, after you’ve had a solid fat-filled breakfast of cereals, toast with peanut butter, or bagels and cream cheese, or french toast with syrup, and cheese, nuts, fruits.
But you will lose weight on a rigorous winter hike because you’ll burn off more than you eat. Because proteins take so much longer to metabolize, you put yourself in danger if you decide to eat “diet” meals. You will tire and get cold faster, which can lead to falls and accidents. Carbs and fats will keep you energized and warmer, especially if you keep moving and don’t stop for lunch.
Here are some more winter hiking pointers:
1) Add Tang or Gatorade to water to reduce the freezing point. You must drink extra liquid to stay hydrated. Drinking water seems counter-intuitive when it’s cold outside, but you will sweat a lot. A flavoring added to water, keeps it from freezing and adds taste.
2) Don’t eat snow. Always melt it before you consume it. Eating actual snow will make you cold and the amount of energy your body expends to melt it outweighs the benefit.
3) Keep spare batteries covered and in a pocket so that they are warm and ready, if needed.
4) Pack a small container of glasses/goggles anti-fog stuff.
5) Fleece is best for warmth. And if fleece gets wet it still insulates. “Down” is warm, but useless when wet.
In winter conditions, keeping warm is a function of keeping dry. The trick is to keep cool. “If your feet are cold, put a hat on, or pull your hat down over your ears. If you are hot, take off your hat, or pull it up over your ears.” Don’t remain hot or cold, stay cool!
Thanks to fellow AMC member Bob Vogel for providing most of this information.