December 21st through March 21st, Trail Otter will be holding the “Hike Letchworth: Winter 50” challenge.
“It is a winter-only challenge, meaning participants will need to hike 50 miles during the winter calendar season on any open trails inside Letchworth State Park,” Bill Waterhouse, Managing Member, wrote.
Waterhouse is a licensed NYS guide and the owner of Trail Otter LLC. Sonja Olbert who is also a licensed NYS guide will also be assisting with the Trail Otter Hiking Club and the Winter 50 events.
Doing these challenges provides people a fun way to get people out and moving during the winter months.
“Letchworth is magical in the winter months. Between viewing the frozen waterfalls, the ice volcano and the solitude of the less popular areas, it is a great place to reconnect with nature and get some exercise at the same time.” Waterhouse stated.
Trail Otter will have sign ups on their website (trailotter.com/challenges) along with tips on what to bring, and what to avoid. The challenge is free to sign up, and if you would like a patch there will be a $5 minimum donation.
“Any additional proceeds from the challenge will be donated to trail maintenance organizations who maintain Letchworth State Park trails,” he stated.
They will also be providing free hikes on Sunday afternoons held by their own Trail Otter Hiking Club. Trail Otter will also have a free Official Letchworth State Park Map & Guide available during the hikes. “… [we] will also rent MICROspikes (mini-crampons for traction) and snowshoes,” according to Waterhouse.
Trail Otter recommends that while going out they should:
- Most importantly, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
- Bring the Hiking 10 Essentials, especially a headlamp, whistle, compass, first aid kit and an Official Map & Guide (we have all of these at our store)
- Read and practice Leave No Trace principles.
- Check weather reports and wear seasonally appropriate clothing, keeping in mind rapid and potentially dangerous temperature changes in wintertime.
- Always hike with a partner. This is especially true in wintertime.
- If conditions dictate, MICROspikes for traction or snowshoes for deeper snow.
- Extra food and water for energy. The body requires more water and food for winter hiking.
- For added safety, bring a satellite messenger as cellular service is very sparse in the park.
- Stay well back and away from gorge edges, as wintertime makes them more dangerous
Some tips they have are:
- If you have them, keep MICROspikes in your backpack for traction throughout the winter season.
- Take your time and be safe while completing the challenge. Have fun!
- Use hiking poles for better balance when traversing snowy or icy trails.
- Dress in layers, as you may be surprised how warm you get hiking in the wintertime.
- Keep your phone close to your body to keep it warm. The cold drains the battery much faster.
And if you are looking for something fun to see or do there are lots of things to see in Letchworth State Park such as:
- Lots of deer move into the park during the winter months and close to the roadways.
- The Ice Volcano at Glen Iris Inn
- Frozen waterfalls abound from both sides of the park!
- Pack a lunch, find a log, and have a winter picnic
If you have any questions you can either call or go to the store. Trail Otter is located on 134 Main St., Leicester. Their phone number is 585-382-5055.