If you live &/or hike (cross-country ski, snowshoe, mountain bike etc) in southeastern Wyoming this scene is probably familiar.
You notice that there’s no wind in town and think to yourself, “I should be hiking right now.”
So, you grab your daypack, load it up in the car and drive up the mountain.
As you pull into the trailhead you hear the wind howling. Suddenly your car starts shaking and momentarily you think you’ve been caught in an earthquake before you realize that it’s just the Wyoming wind threatening to blow your car to Nebraska.
You sit and contemplate whether or not to get out and start hiking, or to turn around and drive back to town where you can just watch Mile, Mile & a Half on Netflix to get your hiking fix instead.
But no, you’re already there so damn it you’re gonna hike.
You open your door, a gust of wind threatens to blow it off the hinges. You briefly think about how miserable it would be if a gust of wind actually did blow the door off your car.
Just as you’re thinking this, your Forest Service pass, the one that is hanging on your rear view mirror blows out the door. Ugh, now you’ve lost the pass and you’re a litterbug. A few receipts, a coffee cup from Starbucks and whatever junk you have lingering on the dashboard are also donated to mother nature and have blown into the abyss.
You hop out of your car, survey the damage and pay for a day use pass all while trying to cinch your pack to your body, your children to your body, your dog to your body and any other possible thing that could fly off the mountain never to return.
When everything is situated you run like a mountain lion chasing an elk into the trees, hoping that their branches will somehow protect you from the wind.
No such luck.
You start to cry, but it’s on accident because your body is producing it’s own tears to protect your eyes from all the junk that the wind is blowing through the air.
Finally you give up, You accept your fate and you start to hike, putting one foot in front of the other and trying your hardest to forget about the wind that’s slapping the straps of your daypack against your back, the tears that are stinging your eyes and the little chunks of dirt, gravel or snow that are pelting your face like shrapnel.
Welcome to Wyoming.
I wish I had a hundred marvelous tips on how to hike in the wind but I don’t. I hate the wind just as much as anyone else. I hate driving in it, I hate hiking in it, I hate skiing in it. But, as a true citizen of Laradise I’ve accepted my fate. There’s no way to escape from the wind.
So how do I hike in the wind?
I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve.
That’s right. Look boldly into the direction that the wind is blowing and smile as if to say, “Mother Nature you’re a cruel and heartless mistress but you can’t stop me. I win. You lose.”
- Always pack a shell.
Wind is going to rip right through that sweatshirt or fleece jacket. Wear a shell, a good, wind-blocking outer layer…even a rain jacket will do. If you’re cold the wind is even more unbearable.
- Try to hike into the wind from the trailhead.
We’ve all made the mistake of thinking that we’re really doing awesome out on the trails just to turn around and realize the wind was pushing us speedily down the trail and now we’re faced with hiking against the wind back to the trailhead. This sucks, get the hard part of your hike done first by boldly hiking face first into the wind.
- Prepare your gear in the car before you even start your hike.
When you’re out on a windy day take a few minutes to prep your gear. I’ve gone as far as remove granola bars from their wrappers and stick them in my pockets to avoid trying to unwrap them in the wind without littering. Look at maps in the car too, so you can leave them in your pocket as much as possible.
- Use your trekking poles.
Yep, trekking poles can really help with balance when the wind is threatening to knock you over.
Hiking in the wind, it’s inevitable around here.
What tips do you have to share? Leave a comment below.