Don’t put that winter coat away just yet

It’s not spring yet. Spring doesn’t start until next week. Last week’s cold snap illustrated that point. But even when spring does finally get here, you need to be ready for the worst the weather can throw at you.

The calendar says spring starts next Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be 72 degrees and sunny every day. In Wyoming, we tend to get a pretty good percentage of our yearly precipitation – including snow – in the early spring.

Much of the backcountry is still socked in with snow. If you’re going there, you’re probably already prepared. The mere fact that you’ll have to ski or snowshoe in should remind you that you’ll need to take plenty of warm clothing and several ways to start a fire.

But if you’re just headed up for a day trip to a lake or stream in the mountains, you still don’t want to forget the heavy clothing. Make sure to carry a good winter coat, and maybe even some insulated pants, even if it’s 70 degrees when you leave home. The weather in the high country can change in a hurry, and you don’t want to get caught unprepared.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack a waterproof outer layer, too. Whether it’s snow or rain that starts falling from the sky, a mountain storm can drench you pretty quickly. And when you’re wet, you have a much greater chance of becoming hypothermic.

The rules of thumb for staying comfortable, warm and safe are the same in March as they are the rest of the year. Dress in layers, with a material that wicks water away from your skin as the base layer. Wear several thin layers of synthetic material or wool on top of the base layer. Avoid cotton, if you can. Go with wool, instead. Or you could wear Polypropylene, Thinsulate or other synthetics that retain their insulating properties even when they’re wet. Cotton just gets cold and heavy.

If you start getting hot, shed a layer or two. Try to keep from sweating too much.

But whatever you wear, get outside this spring. Shake off the effects of being cooped up all winter. There’s no better way to do that than to try to catch a fish or two.

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