If you follow the blog, you know that I have dubbed myself as a recovering cold weather curmudgeon. I loved snow days when I was a kid. But as I grew older, I grew to dislike winter more and more.
My cure began when Tim and I moved back home to PA from Florida. We moved in October. As we drove into our new hometown, I saw pumpkins and hay bales. I exclaimed to Tim that it was so delightful to see real autumn again. We had both greatly missed the four distinct seasons.
Now, our three kids want to be outside almost regardless of the weather. I’ve learned to adjust my comfort level with Jack Frost nipping at my nose. You could even say that I enjoy many winter activities now.
We can do more than just make the best of it in winter, though. I find joy in simple things like a steaming mug of coffee and a fuzzy blanket. The trick is to figure out how to bring those simple joys along with you. Here are five things to make a winter hike better.
A Hot Beverage
Have I mentioned my love for coffee? Tim often takes a morning walk and brings his coffee along. It’s wonderfully refreshing to combine cold, crisp air with your morning joe. And the kids think bringing a thermos of cocoa on a hike is the best thing ever.
Always bring water too. Staying hydrated fends off hypothermia and dehydration.
Fine Wool Mittens
The little luxuries in life can make all the difference. One of my other hobbies is knitting. I’ve been working on a pair of mittens made of alpaca and yak wool. They are silky and cozy. Once finished, they are sure to be warm and lovely.
Let me make a case for mittens. The kids usually prefer gloves for playing in the snow because they need mobility. Mittens are actually warmer, though. Inside, your fingers share body heat and stay warmer.
I love my wool socks! Smart Wool and Darn Tough Socks from Vermont are the best wool socks you can get. Don’t get sticker shock when ordering them. Trust me that they are worth every penny. Look for sales at stores like Field and Streams. We have gotten Smart Wool socks on BOGO sales before.
Disposable hand warmers like Hot Pockets (not the food) are an inexpensive way to make your winter hike more pleasant. I know my husband and his brothers use them while hunting too. You can get a pack of 40 for less than $20 on Amazon.
Just open a pack and put them in your pockets. They need a small amount of air to circulate through them to activate. It will make your pocket a nice, toasty spot. Cupping the warmer in your hand will impede the process.
I mentioned gaiters in my snowshoe hiking post. Gaiters are a water-resistant layer that covers the lower portion of your leg. They hook to your hiking boots and go up just below your knees. The ones I have tie around the bottom of my boots and have elastic and Velcro to adjust the top.
Gaiters keep your socks dry and keep the snow out of your boots. Since walking can kick up snow onto your leg and into your boots, I recommend a pair of gaiters for a hike that will last more than an hour. You can spend from $20-$80 depending on what you prefer.
I hope this list inspires you to let go of your dislike for the cold. Enjoy some winter hiking time and bring some of the simple joys along with you.
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