Winter hiking is exhilarating, challenging and fun but without the right equipment it can be dangerous. Trails can turn into slick, ice-covered pathways which is what you often encounter in winter, and even much of the early spring, here in Maine. You need a plan to stay on your feet. Fortunately, I have a plan.
Our last few hikes of March fell into this icy, treacherous category. While there were sections that were clear of ice, most areas were not. It didn’t stop us from hitting the trails. We had a newly purchased state park pass sitting in our pocket and were ready to go. Plus, I had finally invested in the right hiking gear for Xtreme Conditions. I own a pair of STABILicersTM Maxx which I had broken in during an earlier winter hike to the Mountain Division Trail in Freyburg.
I may have been a little more excited to hit the winter trails than my husband on a recent, unusually cold day last month. He posted to Facebook before our hike:
“-16 windchill with gusts to 35 mph and Karen wants to hike the “Harpswell Cliffs”. If you don’t hear from us again, please check in on our kids from time to time and make sure they’re OK.”
Did I mention he likes sarcasm? I don’t think he was worried about the windchill as much as jealous because I owned STABILicers and he did not. He did have some lower end, generic crampons and we quickly found out mine were better. After the tenth time that he slipped, I knew it was time to upgrade him to his own pair of STABILicers too. Although, we learned far too late in the hike that his crampon had actually slipped off one of his boots which was why he was slipping so much. Either way, it was still an equipment fail.
The Harpswell Cliff Trail was beautiful and fortunately the tree cover blocked most of the wind during our hike. As we headed out, it looked like we might not need the STABILicers since there was no snow or ice at the beginning of the trail, but this quickly changed. One of the toughest things with trails this time of year is that they’ll go from free and clear to slick with ice and then back again. As soon as we hit the first patch of ice, it was on with the crampons.
One of the things I especially love about my STABILicers is that they are so easy to get on and off. They have adjustable velcro straps at the toe and ankle. You just loosen the velcro, slip your foot onto the rubber base and then tighten the straps again.
The first part of the Harpwell Cliff Trail parallels the tidal Strawberry Creek which opened onto beautiful winter views. The trail was fairly twisty and since we were climbing to a cliff it did have some good inclines but we eventually reached the top. There was a small open area where you could take in the views at Long Reach. We sat for a bit to have our snack and enjoy the views before tackling the return hike. Going down on ice is even harder than going up.
I’m glad I invested in the more intense STABILicers Maxx meant for heavy ice and snow. I feel prepared for any conditions with them on my feet. I can also buy replacement cleats when mine start to wear out. STABIL makes a full line of traction gear for various activities and conditions and even have a pair designed specifically for LL Bean boots.
The week after our hike, I bought my husband a pair. Now we are both ready to tackle icy paths.
Do you enjoy any winter activities? Do you have any winter equipment that you find especially helpful?
|things to know|
|Company Name||STABIL a 32North, Inc. Company|
|Location||16 Pomerleau Street
Biddeford, Maine 04005
|Favorite ♥||Safe Winter Hiking|