Ways to stay safe when hiking during the winter season

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 11 p.m. on Saturday
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST
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POWELL/WOLFE COUNTIES (WYMT) - For those daring to brave the winter weather, exploring the trails of Eastern Kentucky, it is always important to stay safe.

Officials with Wolfe County Search and Rescue said the Red River Gorge has become more popular to hikers during the winter season.

Deputy Chief Mike Hackett said it brings in a lot of inexperienced hikers only used to the summer heat.

“Whether you want to say clothing or the type of materials that they’re taking,” he said. “It may lead to more rescues, we see more people, more rescues. Typical way things happen out here in the gorge.”

Hackett added there are many ways to prepare.

He said that includes wearing well-ventilated clothing.

“No cotton materials, synthetics, especially a first layer that can wick and that can evaporate, and then shells and other mid-layers to help keep you warm, that can vent,” Hackett said.

The deputy chief said it is also wise to pack the minimum requirement of supplies.

“That’s going to be water, or a way to make water if you have a lot of snow around,” Hackett said. “That’s going to mean some kind of a fuel and a stove package. It’s less reliable to just expect there to be enough wood and dry wood around you.”

Hackett said proper footwear and hiking sticks are also necessary.

He added this helps prevent any sliding.

“We don’t really have a lot of ice around here typically this time of year,” Hackett said. “We’ve had such cold weather that some of our waterfalls are starting to freeze over. So, we’ll get some ice climbers out in this area.”

Hackett said, most importantly, keeping an eye out for any early developments of hypothermia.

“Whenever you start to have the inability to walk straight or get the mumbles in your voices,” he said. “You’re not really able to think clearly or you’re making bad decisions. It’s time to bail.”

Hackett said one of the best ways to combat early stages of hypothermia is sugar.

Candy and hot chocolate are some great examples.

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