Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's So Pretty! But Be Careful Out There!

The snow is pretty, that is, except for the drive last night. I had to drop someone off at a train, and as we rounded "Dead Man's Curve" the car to my left hit the wall. He was not traveling too fast, and it was a side-on collision, away from which he was able to drive. But gosh, it was frightening! I have seen the debris left on DMC over the years, but I have never seen anyone actually hit the wall. If possible, when the weather is bad and the distance is short, I'd rather be walking.

Which reminds me of winter hiking safety, especially for those venturing out to track critters, go birding, our just hike and enjoy the scenery. Remember some helpful hints (not an exhaustive list):

Dress in layers, avoid cotton, and let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Bring water; even if there is snow around, eating snow can bring your body temperature down quite quickly. Avoid touching metal with your bare hands (binoculars, spotting scopes, dog leashes). Be aware of the signs of frostbite. Long hikes and winter camping should be approached with caution even by seasoned outdoorsmen.

Note: In this photo, my children are breaking all the rules. They are not wearing hats or gloves. Trip does not even have a jacket on, and he is wearing a cotton shirt and undershirt. I guess I can give him credit for wearing two layers. Annika's coat is flapping unbuttoned. Paul (hidden by Trip) is wearing a fleece pullover, but no hat, and with a new haircut he was loosing heat through his head like a chimney. Luckily, they are only in the front yard for the Christmas photo (200+ photos, and 4 kids can't behave long enough to let me get one good shot; oh, the faces they made!). They were probably eating snow in the next scene...

So, be prepared, but don't let required preparation put you off! A winter hike, or even a walk around a small piece of property, is a beautiful thing. Birds are easy to see, tracks are easy to find, and, well, it's just plain pretty. Fresh snow changes a muddy brown landscape into a clean white canvas. Good bird seed or suet can bring birds right to your window. Snow makes the air feel clean and smell fresh. Enjoy it safely!

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