If fall is nature at its showiest, winter is nature at its most honest. Minus her canopy, her understory, her ground cover, she has little to hide. Stone foundations from homesteads long abandoned lie exposed. Distant mountaintops are revealed. Critters have nowhere to hide. It’s the perfect time to be in the woods, a time when you can peer deep into nature’s soul. Especially if you seek a more true form of adventure — the type of adventure that doesn’t exist on a blazed trail marked on a map. That’s why we go wild over winter.
The following post originally appeared Dec. 12, 2016. We rerun it today, with a tweak or two, because it expresses our appreciation of the season that lies ahead.
Winter’s skies are milky, indifferent. Its landscape monochromatic, a wash of grays and browns. Its weather harsh at times. And Lord knows the season is stingy with sunlight. The stuff of travel & tourism ad campaigns winter is not.
I woke up earlier than usual Tuesday morning and didn’t realize it until later. I was well into my morning routine before I happened to notice a clock.
6:10? Why am I awake at 6:10?
I looked out the living room window and saw why: the sky was already light, a glowing light even though sunrise was a good 45 minutes off. Even official twilight was a few minutes away. Yet it was already light out.
In the early 1980s I lived in Loveland, Colo. On weekends, I would drive up U.S. 34 along the Big Thompson River toward Estes Park, into the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest. I would typically stop well short of Estes, sometimes not even making it to the tiny crossroads of Drake. I’d find a roadside pullout, get out and start hiking: there didn’t need to be a trail, as long as the terrain was passible. It wouldn’t be long, scrambling up the steep canyon walls, before I’d start fantasizing that I might be the first person to have ever made it to the ridge above. Hey, I was in my 20s. What did I know?
We’re ready for spring, so we can get outside even more often. We bet you’re ready, too.
What say we get together and do a little exploring? Here are some of the adventures we have planned for spring.
Winter Wild Off-Trail Adventures
This series of off-trail adventures started in winter but it’s trickling over into spring — in part, because weather caused a postponement or two. It’s also because we’ve had such a blast on these hikes — a portion of which are on official trail, most of which aren’t — that we decided to extend the program through March. Still to come: