Spring hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains can be a frustrating and humbling time to spend on the trails. Snow tends to linger on the high peaks well into late May- early June, and daytime temperatures remain rather chilly. Hikers need to be prepared for postholing in soft snow and water crossings in frigid streams. This will often require that you carry full winter gear even on warmer days. Here are some basic safety tips and tricks to keep in mind on your next hike.
Use trekking poles.
Trekking poles are extremely useful when hiking on wet trails. They help keep you upright and help indicate the depths of water you are stepping into.
Hike at a slower pace.
A muddy, wet trail forces you to slow down and pay close attention to each step. One small slip could lead to a major injury. Expect to hike slower than normal and plan a shorter hike than you would when trail conditions are more ideal.
Stay on trail.
Stepping into water and mud when necessary will help minimize overall trail damage. You may be tempted to walk along the sides of the trail in order to keep your feet dry and shoes free from mud, but doing so can loosen the soil and result in erosion. Early spring hiking requires walking in the center of the trail and sticking to rocks wherever possible.
Avoid hiking after rain.
Avoid hiking after it’s rained a significant amount so that you allow time for the trails to dry out. Wet trails can trigger both minor and major injuries.
Don’t skimp on gear.
You might be tempted to carry less gear on a spring hike because the temps have warmed up, the snow is melting fast, and the air feels lighter. Be aware that winter continues to linger in the higher peaks throughout the spring season – quite often into the early summer months.
Spring Hiking Checklist
- Insulated bottle
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Snowshoes (dependent on trail conditions)
- Rain jacket
- Face mask/baklava
- First-aid kit
- Food + water
- Map + compass