Friday, February 19, 2021

Recreation highlight: Snowshoes in the High Peaks

snowshoeing at the wild centerIf you’re planning to hike in the High Peaks region this winter, you may have heard that snowshoes are required to be worn once snow depths reach eight inches. But why is that, and what does it mean for you?

Snow can get very deep in the High Peaks Wilderness. Currently, there is close to three feet of snow at base elevations and five to six feet on summits. When snow gets this deep, staying on the surface is vital to your safety and the safety of others.

Snowshoes redistribute weight and help hikers float on the surface of deep snow. This prevents the deep holes, known as postholes, created by bare boots. Note that carrying snowshoes with you is not sufficient – they must be worn to prevent falls and postholing.

It might seem like snowshoes are unnecessary when trails become packed down from repeated travel, but that is not the case. Snow alongside the hardpacked trails will still be soft. Imagine stepping off to the side to let another group pass and falling feet down into the snow. Such falls can lead to injury and leave dangerous traps along the trail. Even on hardpacked trails bare boots can still create holes and divots in the snow that might cause others – especially skiers – to fall.

There are some instances when you might have to switch your snowshoes for other traction devices. When you encounter thick, steep ice, swap out your snowshoes for crampons. As soon as you are past the ice, put your snowshoes back on.

It takes practice to be able to walk in snowshoes comfortably. Practice at home, in familiar locations, and on short walks before attempting a big hike. Using trekking poles can help with balance.

Almanack file photo

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.


4 Responses

  1. Karen Davis says:

    Some young people have opened businesses but with the COVID shut down dreams and finances have been destroyed. If there were grants that could help these businesses rebuild maybe we can keep those people here? Remember these are the business folks that believed they could make our towns a better place and loved the North Country enough to try to make it up here.

    The grants that were given out, to small businesses, weren’t enough to make up for all the losses.

    Only a few years ago, North Country, small towns started to rebuild and became vibrant but became ghost towns due to the shut downs and restrictions on businesses.

    How do we attract young people with the state of this State? How do we attract businesses that would allow for career growth? How do we support those that believed they could make it up here before they leave?

  2. todd says:

    should be a rule in the catskills as well. We have over two feet of fresh snow and many people post holing all the way up and down the trail

  3. Dave Ritchie says:

    Didn’t I see that people were warning against hiking in the High Peaks areas of the Adks because of the danger of avalanches?? Because even though the snow is deep, the bottom layers are really soft, weak snow. Has Adk Almanack published those warnings?