DEC advises backcountry visitors to be prepared for winter conditions

ALBANY - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advises visitors to the backcountry of the Adirondacks to be prepared for snow, ice and cold, and to be sure to use the proper equipment.

"While winter is an opportune time to take advantage of all that the Adirondack Park has to offer, the season can also present troublesome - even perilous - conditions to the unprepared," state DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a recent press release. "The snow cover in the Adirondacks is more than three feet deep in the higher elevations. At this time, we require visitors to the Eastern High Peaks to use snowshoes or cross-country skis for their safety and we strongly recommend that visitors to other parts of the Adirondacks do the same."

Snowshoes or skis prevent sudden falls or "post-holing," avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy mountaintops and other exposed areas.

In addition, backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines:

• Dress properly with layers of wool and fleece - not cotton - clothing: a wool or fleece hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots.

• Carry a day pack with the following contents: ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

• Drink plenty of water - dehydration can lead to hypothermia.

• Eat plenty of food to maintain energy levels and warmth.

• Check weather before entering the woods - if the weather is poor, postpone your trip. The mountains will always be there.

• Be aware of weather conditions at all times - if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

• Contact the DEC at 897-1200 to determine trail conditions in the area you plan to visit.

Adirondack Trail Information can be found on the DEC Web site, www.dec.ny.gov. The site provides general information and seasonal conditions, specific notices on closures and other situations involving trails, roads, foot bridges and links to rules and regulations, hiker and camper safety, low impact recreation, weather and more.

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