WATERBURY >> As the weather improves this Spring, the Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety would like to remind those heading out onto Vermont's hiking trails of the ever changing conditions a hiker may encounter this time of year, especially at higher elevations. As you follow trails into the mountains you can find yourself hiking in snow and ice again despite warm weather and green grass at the trailhead. Spring showers at lower elevations can turn into an all-too-familiar wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain in the hills. The long-lasting snowpack at higher elevation keeps the air temperatures cool, soaks your boots, and can make the trails difficult to follow.
If hiking at higher elevations, it's important that spring hikers continue to be prepared for winter conditions. Waterproof boots (not sneakers) with traction devices, extra layers of warm clothes, a headlamp, map and compass may become necessary for a safe and successful hike. Consider turning around when you hit icy or snow covered trails if you are not properly equipped or if travel and route finding becomes more difficult.
Neil Van Dyke, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety, reports that there were several search and rescue incidents last spring involving hikers who were not properly prepared for the conditions they found at higher elevations.
Officials from the Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety encourage you to stay safe while enjoying the beginning of hiking season, by being careful as you climb higher into the mountains where spring may not yet have arrived. Hikers are also reminded that trails on state land above 2500' in elevation remain closed until Memorial Day.
For more information on this topic, contact the agency representatives — Vermont Department of Public Safety: Neil VanDyke - 802-241-5656, or Vermont State Police: Scott Waterman - 802-241-5277.