We’ve reached late fall, the transition between glorious fall hiking and winter, a period many see as a three-month hiatus from the trail. Why? Well, we know not why: for us, it has become our favorite season to be on the trail. It’s a topic we’ve waxed on at length; here, for instance.
Winter hikes in the mountains intimidate us. Not so much the hiking itself — who doesn’t love tromping through a forest carpeted with snow? Rather, it’s simply getting to the trailhead. The prospect of icy mountain roads, of road closures, of other drivers who don’t know how to drive on icy roads. Why run the risk?
We love winter hiking. Why? We’ll refer you to this post from two years ago to explain why. Today, as we do every year at this time, we trot out our tips for how you can take the perceived discomfort out of winter hiking, making it possible to better appreciate what to many hikers is the sport’s lost season.
Note: We run a version of this post, tweaked and updated, every year around this time. We run it because every year around this time, when the sun spends less time with us and the temperatures drop, a lot of folks think about hanging up their hiking gear for the season. That, we believe, is a bad idea. In this post, we explain how to make friends with the cold on the trail.
We came to a stop in the narrow clearing accommodating a power line and switched off our headlamps. We’d reached the turnaround point for our weekly Tuesday Night Hike, and as was our habit, we went dark for several minutes. The sun was long gone, having set two hours earlier, and the moon was just starting to think about cresting the eastern horizon. It was dark, really dark, and it took our eyes a minute to adjust. Our psyches, too.