Surviving in the outdoors can be a difficult challenge all by itself, but surviving in the outdoors during winter is another story altogether. Snow makes every task in nature much more complicated, even mundane ones.
It’s very important to be dressed warmly so get yourself a cozy wool sweater and other winter clothes. Besides that, to be an effective hiker or nature survivalist in the winter, you will need to develop some additional skills.
Making a Shelter
When the snow starts pouring, you don’t want to get caught outside. Your first priority should be to get out of the cold and wind. For this, you will need to find a sturdy and effective shelter. Look around, try to find a suitable spot for your shelter. If the snow is deep enough, try digging a big hole for yourself in it. Getting in a snow hole is a great way to get out of the cold wind and it doesn’t require any building materials. A shovel can be useful here but if you don’t have one, your hands will have to do. If there are enough branches around, you can build a more complex shelter. Find a bigger rock or part of a cliff and build yourself a lean-on shelter from the branches.
During the winter moving around is more difficult. The best thing you can do is move slowly and carefully. Watch for steep land slopes, they can be a nasty surprise. You should avoid shortcuts. When the snow covers them, they can become very dangerous. If you can, keep to the trails that have already been marked as safe by other hikers. When going downhill, move faster, and if the snow is soft make sure you take longer steps. Also, remember that it is much easier to get exhausted by moving through the snow and this might create a couple of new problems for you.
Water is Life
You should always carry enough water with you, but if you get stuck in the snow for a longer time, you might run out. Finding a water source is a crucial skill. If you have a stream nearby, you are in luck, as running water is the safest to drink. Standing water might be problematic because of bacteria. If there is no water near you, there is the option to melt the snow to get drinking water. Whatever the water source, it is very important to boil it if you can before drinking.
Starting a Fire
There is nothing more important during winter than staying warm. Always carry something that can start a fire with you, on any kind of an outdoor trek. You need to be able to make a fire. Be careful, as gathering branches for this might be problematic. In the winter most of the braches that are laying around will be wet and they will not be able to burn. You will have to spend some extra time searching for dry ones. Make a hole in the snow and put the branches, preferably thicker ones on the bottom, in it. Keep the fire small, as this will help you conserve the wood you collected. All you need to do is try to keep yourself warm and a small fire should be enough for this.
The most dangerous thing in the winter is getting cold. If one of your body parts gets cold, you might suffer nerve damage. This is why you need to know how to warm up fast. If your clothes are wet, change them immediately. You can actually rub snow quickly on a cold part to warm it up. If you get frostbite, you need to treat it as any kind of wound. You will need to bandage it and then warm it up extra. You should never put snow on a frostbite or make holes in blisters. It can lead to skin damage or serious infection. You might get snow blindness due to exposure to the sun reflecting off the snowy landscapes. In this case, you need to put a cool rag over your eyes and get out of the sun at once.