Must I Hibernate?... and other winter questions for humans

I guess I am a warm weather animal, at least that’s my natural state. Most years, as each winter has approached, I have felt a sense of dread, almost of panic, that I will be inside more, and less connected with nature on a regular basis. Camping out in the backcountry is on hold until Spring. Long hikes are dependent on weather for months. Parkway access to mountains is often closed.

Oh I don’t want to be a hibernating animal!

So this winter my partner and I decided we would research and prepare for any weather, at least in this part of the world, and go for it both hiking and camping. We read blogs about how people camped out in subzero temperatures, gathered up our thin warm layers and tried layering them all, worked to optimize light weight yet what we needed to stay warm in a backpack, carefully selected and bought a few key items, and out we went, excited about the weather forecast for temperatures in the teens! And guess what? It works!

I do run cold. I don’t like being cold for long, and guess what….I don’t have to hibernate! I can apply my old standard phrase “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes” even to icy, cold, temperatures. It works.

What do you get? Icicles shaped like upside down cones with lace dangling on them along streams, whole 50 foot waterfalls frozen on top with water flowing out beneath, hiking smoothly on top of a trail that is usually ankle-breaker rocky because the snow covers it like a carpet, and no crowds, even in the more popular places!

I have never claimed to be hard core. I am small, have life injuries, and can’t carry tons of weight on my back, so I’ve gone slowly, figuring out the winter mode step by step.

This is to inspire those of you out there who are ordinary folks, with worn places on your bodies and limited budgets. We don’t have to hibernate! Winter hiking and camping can be really exciting and comfortable, though it takes some work and determination! We need to be prepared for lots of changes like road closures, you can’t cross deep streams on trails so you have to bushwhack to get around them or change trails mid hike, and we don’t have as much light so be prepared for night hiking if you go a long distance.