What kinds of winter travel difficulties should I be preparing myself for mentally?
You should be preparing yourself for:
What should I wear on a winter hike?
In order to feel comfortable on a winter hike at Baikal, you should dress in multiple layers. This will allow you to add or remove clothing, depending on the temperature and other weather conditions.
For optimal comfort, you can combine the following three or four layers of clothing: a set of next-to-skin, base-layer long underwear; a middle layer of wool or fleece; an outer layer of wind protection with a hood that has been treated to repel snow and water; and, as an extra layer, a fur coat or warm jacket, filled with down, polyester batting, or holofiber, which can be put on during periods of minimal activity.
You should also have two hats: a light hat that covers your forehead and ears, which will be used during physical activity, and a warmer hat, which will be used during periods of minimal activity.
For your legs, you'll need four or five layers of clothing, including: cotton socks; wool socks; warm insoles; leather (not fur-lined) boots with laces; boot covers – special devices made of fabric, which are worn over the boots to protect them from snow and ice; and valenki – very warm traditional Siberian felt boots, which can be worn during periods of rest.
For your hands, you'll need three pairs of gloves. The first pair should be knit from wool or other material, and are for periods of high activity, so they shouldn't be too warm and you should be able to comfortably move your hands in them. The second pair are for instances of abrupt drops in temperature and increases in wind. These should be worn over the first pair, and should be made of canvas or another thick, windproof material. The third pair should be made of fur or some other very warm material and will be worn during periods of minimal activity.
What other things should I bring?
There is a lot of sun in Northern Baikal in the winter. The sun, when reflected off of the snow, becomes much more intense and has a more powerful effect on our skin. Therefore, some of the indispensable items in your backpack will include: sunglasses, sunscreen, lip moisturizer/protectant, and lotion that protects against wind burn.
A bathing suit and towel come in handy at any time of the year, since Northern Baikal is rich with hot springs. And in the summer the water in the shallow bays can heat up to +20 Ñ.
Some additional things that will provide added comfort to any trip include: a foam sitting pad, a headlamp, two boxes of matches or a lighter, and a set of stainless steel dishes, including a mug, spoon, bowl, and knife.
What specific gear do I need in the summer?
In the summer, along with warm and windproof clothing, it's no less important to bring along waterproof rain gear. Trekking boots should be treated with waterproofing solutions. Waterproof trousers that zip or snap up the sides will also be useful, and you will absolutely need a waterproof raincoat or poncho to protect you from the rain. In addition to underwear, don't forget to include extra socks, insoles, warm sleeping clothes (sweater, pants, wool hat, socks). It is very important that all the things in your backpack be packed in plastic or waterproof bags.
If you will be traveling into the mountains or on the shore of Baikal, it will be useful to have a warm jacket with a hood, even in the middle of the summer. On a warm day, it is more comfortable and safer to wear light clothing with long sleeves and a hat, as this will protect you from the sun, mosquitoes, and the wind.