Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Reasons to get out Hiking this Winter

This winter feels like its been extraordinarily long and cold but even with that there have been many days when getting out and exploring a trail have been not only possible but very worthwhile.

Besides the obvious advantage of no bugs, here are 5 benefits to getting out hiking in the winter:

Fresh Perspective.

Even trails that you frequently explore look different under a fresh layer of snow. Streams and trees look different and waterfalls take on a whole new and spectacular look.

Less People

If peace and solitude are an important component of your hiking experience, then winter is the ideal time to get outside.

More Wildlife

The combination of less people on the trails and significantly less leaf cover mean you can see further distances. The obvious benefit is that you can spot more wildlife. Deer are easy to find in the valley and woodpeckers and other birds are plentiful. Bring some seed along and some of those friendly birds are likely to get very close in exchange for a snack.

More Exercise

Added winter clothing and snow covered trails add resistance to your movement and with that comes additional health benefits.  You can improve your strength and cardiovascular health while at the same time relieving stress and eliminating the winter blues. Hiking is proven to aid in weight loss and helps to protect against heart disease, diabetes and depression. The extra work involved in hiking in the winter burns more calories and provides you with fitness benefits sooner.
Plus staying active and and fit during the winter months ensures that you'll be in top shape when the regular season begins.


Improved Mental health

It's been said that it is impossible to be in a bad mood and be in the woods at the same time and I can certainly attest to that. Try walking a trail on a sunny winter day with a light snow falling and you instantly feel the happy effects of endorphins combined with fresh crisp air. Scientific studies have long supported the benefits of nature and hiking on mental health and there is no doubt that it is an effective stress reliever and a great way to clear your mind.

So take advantage this winter. Bundle up and explore, I promise that you will be glad you did.

Just a reminder that more photos and trail information are always available on my Facebook page at:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Today I Wandered

Today I wandered. 

With some time to myself and no clear destination in mind, I headed into the valley and was quickly enveloped  in the quietness of the forest now freshly covered in snow.
I let Stella determine the direction and based on her whim and the scents that caught her attention we followed the Spring Creek trail. At various points we paused to admire the creek as its open water and frozen sections intertwined creating random patterns of light and dark. We would stop and then continue to wander.
Deer tracks crossed over the trail at many points, an indication of the large number of them that call this section of the valley home. At one point a red tailed hawk caught our attention as it flew from tree to tree like a sentinel announcing our presence. The trees were alive with other birds as well, mostly cardinals and woodpeckers and we stopped to watch them too. We would enjoy for a minute and then, you guessed it, continue to wander.
That's the great thing about wandering without a clear destination in mind; we had the time to stop and take in each view as well as change direction whenever we wanted.

At some point  I was reminded of the Henry David Thoreau quote: "The scenery, when it is truly seen, reacts on the life of the seer.  How to live. How to get the most of life... How to extract its honey from the flower of the world."

I stopped and pondered those words, smiled, and feeling like I had gained some new understanding, continued my wander.