By: David Ball
I used to think that you were either born as someone who enjoyed winter or someone who hated it. For years when all of my friends would head up to ski resorts or trails in the winter months, past occasionally tagging along just to remind myself it wasn’t for me, I saw winter as my chance to stay in warm climbing gyms and avoid some of the crowds. As my list of outdoor hobbies grew fortunately so did the amount of time I spent outside in colder weather and I’ve learned how to love the winter months just as much as I do the warm ones. Here are a few sure-fire ways to get yourself into the outdoors year-round and not wish you had never left your warm home.
What are you wearing? I’m a gearhead, so I love to geek out over what technology goes into the clothes I wear (something that is incredibly important for getting outside in the colder months). What you wear to stay warm in the fall on a hike isn’t going to work mid-January in most places so here’s a quick breakdown on what to consider:
- If it’s touching your skin, it should be moisture wicking.
- Next layer out, you should consider a fleece or similar layer – no cotton.
- Throw in a synthetic or down jacket and you’ll be good to go for most things.
Remember you’ll always warm up during an activity. A good rule of thumb is you want to be a little cold in the parking lot so by the time you’re moving you’re feeling just right.
- Find something you want to do in the warmer months that will make you train in the colder months. Spartan Race? Longer backpacking trip? These are great end-goals that will help get you get out in the colder months. It’s a lot easier to get out and hike in the snow if you know it will pay off down the road, so set some plans and start working toward it!
- Find and join online groups for activities you like. There is a really good chance they do meet-ups year-round and on a regular basis. Here in the Salt Lake Valley the Wasatch Wranglers Trail Running Facebook Group meets up weekly to go and run (or walk) a different mountain. These groups are also a great place for your kids to get outside with lots of supervision and meet a few others their age who are also along for the ride.
- Find a new activity you’re passionate about. I mentioned at the start that for years my friends ran off to the mountains in the winter while I stayed in the warm confines a climbing gym, but once I started trail running a lot more I didn’t want that to just stop abruptly in the winter, so I bought a split-board and started waking up early to go skin up the same trails I had been running before (they were under several feet of snow). Whether it’s skiing, snowshoeing or even ice climbing the winter can open entirely new hobbies for you and your family to try out regardless of age. Finding something you look forward to when the weather starts to get cold is one of most important first steps in learning to enjoy winter. It can become the “why” for buying some new gear or clothes and for sitting in a cold car on your way to a trail head or group meet-up.
- Last of all, you can avoid so many of the crowds you must dodge in the summer! The outdoors is getting more popular and it’s great that more people than ever are experiencing our national parks and wild places, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great to have them to yourself sometimes. Heading to your closest National Park in winter is guaranteed to give you a unique, memorable and more intimate experience as opposed to the summer months and crowds it brings with it.
Avoid the crowds, find some new hobbies and bring the whole family or crew along for what is bound to be a memorable season.
David considers himself the ambassador of the “Radically Mediocre” lifestyle. He defines this as being able to “hang with people doing just about anything and not slow them down.” You can find him trying to get people to talk to him about the book he just read in coffee shops, or in the western U.S. getting pumped out on scary trad leads (and follows), skydiving, split-boarding and trail running in his home mountain range, the Wasatch, with his dog Margo. Follow him on instagram at @DavidDenverBall.