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Winter Wandering: Don't Let the Cold Keep You Inside

It's easy to let the chill of winter keep you inside.

Virginia's Crabtree Falls in the wintertime
Annie Tobey

I know this, because I'm a fan of warm weather, bare arms, shorts, sweet summer breezes against my skin, leaf-filled trees - but I digress, letting my fantasies interfere with my intentions.

Those intentions are to remind you (and me) that the outdoors in the wintertime has its own beauty, worth braving the cold air for. Not only that, getting outside during this chilly season of shorter days helps to fight the wintertime blues, granting the wanderer the healing powers of sunlight and exercise.

Though the obvious winter recreations are those sports that depend upon snow, like skiing and snowshoeing, it isn't necessary to wait for the snow, or drive to a resort, or even spend oodles of money on fancy equipment. Getting out can be as simple as taking a hike at a nearby park.

Before you venture out:

  1. Be prepared. Have maps and a means of communication should you need it. Carry water and food. Even though you're not sweating like you would be in the summer, your body still needs rehydrating.
  2. Use a service like Weather.com to know what the temperatures will be when you're out. If you're hiking in the mountains, remember that for every 1,000-foot increase in temperature, the temperature decreases about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Since the idea is to improve your health, you'll want to make sure you're dressed for the weather! Dress in layers so you can remove or loosen top layers as you get moving and your body generates its own heat. For more tips on dressing for your outdoor exploration, visit The Active Woman Traveler's 5 Tips for Staying Warm in the Winter and view the attached video.

When you go:

  1. Look for the wonders that are unique to the wintertime. You know those birds that always hide in the leaves? There are fewer hiding places now! How about that waterfall that you enjoy seeing in the summer? It may be even more beautiful in the winter, with amazing ice crystals, mysterious color tones, and soft gurgling sounds beneath the frozen surface. Or the tree canopy that blocks the summer sky? Instead, you can see the sky, often a deeper blue in the winter, behind the silhouettes of millions of branches and twigs.
  2. If you've wandered far afield, be sure you're back before the sun goes down.

I'll never be a fan of winter, but when I try to make the best of it, it's not quite so bad. Get out and enjoy!