The week of December 31st began with a cold a clear New Years Eve Day with highs barely reaching 20 dgereesunder sunny skies. The wind gusted to 2 mph dropping the windchill to the low single digits. On Monday, New Years Day, it was even colder but with less wind. In most areas the thermometer barely hit the single digits with an early mooning reading in Livingston Manor of -8 degrees. A breeze again dropped the temperature to the single sits all day. Tuesday may show temperatures in the high teens on the thermometer but the 15 mph wind will drop the “feels like” temperature to near zero for the entire day. On Wednesday the high may reach into the low 20’s and the lack of any real wind will mean it will feel like 20 degrees. This will seem like a real warming trend! The wind returns on Thursday with highs in the low 20’s which will feel like the low single digits. There may also be snow flurries on Thursday. The brutal cold will return on Friday with highs in the low single digits despite some sun. The forecast calls for wind which will drive the “feels like” temperature below zero all day! Saturday will be COLDER with a high of 2 degrees and some sun. Hiking in extremely cold weather is foolish! Hiking is a recreational activity which is optional! There is always a chance that you may fall or become injured. Even a short period of time in extremely cold weather can result in hypothermia and DEATH! Microspikes are now a “mandatory” item on many trails and, certainly, on the 35’s. A further accumulation of snow in some areas will make snowshoes a good choice. When the weather conditions are constantly changing, be sure you are dressed appropriately in clothing which will wick away moisture to prevent it from accumulating in your clothing which can bring about hypothermia. Layering should be with non-cotton materials as cotton tends to hold moisture. Keeping hydrated is important no matter the temperatures since hydrating properly will allow you to hike longer and in greater comfort. Be sure to carry plenty of water with you as local water sources can be unreliable and may be contaminated. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!