Winter is upon us, and most likely snow is either on the ground now, or you’re looking forward to seeing more of it. Mother nature isn’t always kind during the winter season, however, and sometimes the snowshoe conditions outside may be less than desirable. That doesn’t mean we can’t strap on our snowshoes; it just means we may have to look at things a little differently.
Even if you’re a snowshoeing veteran, curling up on the couch by a fire might sound more appealing than going out in the cold, especially if the snow is falling. It can be easy to use bad weather as an excuse to stay indoors, and motivation might feel far from reach.
Try to remember what John Ruskin said: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. Have you ever been out when snow is actually falling, and the world around you feels like a snow globe?
Whether you snowshoe on a trail or through an open field, you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for so-called less-than-perfect snowshoe weather conditions. The silence is incredible and the air is fresh and clean with the scent of falling snow. Not to mention that your surroundings will look completely different than they do on a sunny day. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, breaking out your snowshoes while the snow is falling is an activity you need to try.
Also, remember all the health benefits that snowshoeing offers. You’re more likely to find outdoor conditions to be cringe-worthy all winter long, so using weather as an excuse to stay in may cause you to stay cooped up. Snowshoeing is great exercise, and the winter months are when we need it most. Exercise boosts energy levels, improves your mood, and burns calories. You’ll stay fit all winter and be able to ward off cabin fever or the winter blues.
Stay Cozy Outdoors
Now that you’ve revved yourself up to get outside in less than perfect conditions, you’ll want to make sure you keep warm. Dress in layers that you can remove if you get too hot. Start with a thin under layer made of polypropylene or polyester that will wick sweat away. Avoid cotton as it tends to soak up moisture. The key to keeping warm is to stay dry.
Next, add a wool or fleece layer that will provide insulation, and top it all off with a a coat or jacket that has a waterproof or water-resistant shell. If you’re out in a mild snowstorm, you want to make sure that the snow can’t get through to your under layers. Wear a hat with a brim if you can in order to keep precipitation off your face, and use the hood on your coat if it has one.
Keep a steady pace. If you overexert yourself, you’ll overheat and begin to sweat. Keeping perspiration to a minimum is important because that moisture will take heat away from your body.
If the trail you’re snowshoeing tends to be difficult and you know you’ll work up a sweat, underdress your core and overdress your hands and feet. When you’re exercising in chilly weather, your core generates body heat from exertion while your extremities get cold. Ensure that they stay toasty with thick wool socks and more than one layer of gloves or mittens. You can even use chemical heat packs in your gloves or boots in order to add a boost of warmth.
Use Good Judgment
It’s important to use good judgment when determining whether or not the conditions outside are too dangerous. If weather forecasts are calling for a blizzard, or heavy snowfall for longer periods of time, it’s probably better to hang up your snowshoes for another day. Also, if temperatures dip down into negative numbers that will make you susceptible to frostbite, you might want to consider the couch and cozy fire discussed earlier.
Follow a Few Safety Rules
So, the conditions are going to be less than ideal, but overall you’ve deemed that it’ll be a safe day on the trail. Even so, it’s prudent to take a few precautions if the snowshoe weather does happen to take a turn for the worst. It gets dark early in the winter season, so shorten your route in order to make it back home before the sun goes down. Pack a few first aid essentials. Let friends or family know where you’ll be and, if you have a friend who is up for it, take a buddy along.
Getting outside in the winter, especially if the conditions are anything less than a relatively warm and sunny day, can be tough. With a little motivation, preparation, and good judgment, you can enjoy snowshoeing on almost any day throughout the entire winter season. Strap on your shoes, grab your gear, and give it a try.