Winter would never win a seasonal popularity contest, but there’s a substantial minority of winter enthusiasts who are unquestionably enamored of the season.
Best known among them would be the many millions of avid skiers who choose to head out into the snow as often as possible for fun and thrills on the slopes.
But there’s also a quieter, less-publicized group of people who find a different source of outdoor enjoyment during the winter months, namely winter hikers.
Since hiking doesn’t require expensive resorts, or the technology of chairlifts, and isn’t advertised the way downhill skiing is, non-hikers may know little about it.
There are actually tens of millions of people in the United States who take a hike (on a designated hiking trail) at least occasionally. The news media rarely notice.
For obvious reasons, the warmer months are most popular for outdoor activities. Colder weather requires more preparation and can involve certain challenges.
But while some people who hike regularly from spring through fall put their hiking clothing and boots away in late fall and take a winter hiatus, many others don’t.
Your average indoors-oriented-person might wonder, “why in the world would anyone in their right mind choose to spend several hours outside on a cold day?”
Of course, people who don’t hike or have a special appreciation for the natural world may not understand the major joys and pleasures of outdoor recreation.
We also live in a world where the media, movies, and novels focus relentlessly on the negative or scary side of nature, rather than the positive, healthy, uplifting side.
Pleasures of Winter
There’s so much that’s beautiful and inspiring about the winter season that’s overlooked or ignored by most people, in favor of all that’s perceived as negative.
Yes, in order to stay warm while we’re outside we have to take care to dress properly with lots of layers. On the other hand, warm spells are often common in the winter.
And when we have to drive a car or otherwise get around after a snowstorm -- or when roads are icy -- winter can unquestionably entail some real hassles.
Sometimes during and after a winter storm it simply makes sense to stay home, relax, and take it easy. That’s an ideal time to practice patience and “not having to accomplish anything,” which can be therapeutic and a refreshing change.
But how gloriously beautiful the natural world becomes when it’s blanketed in fresh, sparkling snow. How unbelievably peaceful and quiet everything becomes.
And when we go out, how good it feels to walk (or hike, or snowshoe) in freshly-fallen snow, inhaling ultra-clean air, clearing our heads of thoughts and concerns.
The natural world has a much more spare appearance in the northeastern U.S. during winter, especially when there’s no snow, but it has a beauty of its own.
The sometimes stark appearance of barren trees against a clear sky can make a striking impression, like a vast, expressive sculpture garden of woody forms.
Then there are large groves of spruce, pine, and other sweet-scented conifers with their boughs swaying -- and needles hissing and whistling -- in the wind.
And after snow has fallen, things can appear positively otherworldly, when bushes and trees are beautifully snow-coated. It’s often a stunning bright white sight.
Wildlife and birds aren’t nearly as ubiquitous in winter as in springtime or other warmer seasons, yet in time we do see and hear birds, occasionally spot deer and other animals, etc.
Since many creatures prefer to avoid us, and they can often see or smell us before we spot them, we’re sometimes only aware of them by their tracks in the snow.
Walking, hiking, or snowshoeing through a snowy landscape gives us the soothing feeling that we’re utterly removed from the frantic and stressful everyday world.
|Wild Earth Adventures|