Running in the snow, particularly on trails, isn’t for the weak of heart. Not only are you most likely the only one out on the trails, but you also have to encounter many obstacles that you may not have experienced on that very same trail during warmer months.
This means that if something happens, you are alone until the next person comes along. That could be five minutes, or it could be five hours. If it’s a miserable, sleeting, afternoon and quickly turning to dark, and the wind chills are inching down toward zero as you walk (or lay) in the snow inadequately prepared, then you’re in serious danger of hypothermia.
Some examples of unforeseen problems during winter trail running (and this is particularly true on un-maintained trails, or deer/game paths) include hidden flooding beneath a thin crust of ice and snow, rivers and creeks flooded to unexpected heights due to snow melt or rain, very icy conditions, and fallen trees from the storms.
But don’t let this scare you away from trail running in the winter. Rarely will you see the trails this beautiful and serene. Simply make sure you are prepared.
- Wear multiple wicking layers.
- Carry a windbreaker if you think you may need it.
- Wear a hydration pack or belt and carry a source of fuel.
- Carry your cell phone.
- Make sure your shoes have adequate traction.
- Last, but not least, go slow. If you are unsure of the footing ahead, then proceed cautiously, at a walk. When you encounter obstacles, decide if they are safe to cross or not. If you are unsure, then better safe than sorry--turn around.
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