Winter got off to a late start here in New England for 2015-2016, but nature's unpredictability is one of the traits we truly get to enjoy in the northeast. For me, that trait adds to the adventure. It forces you to be in the present moment, enhances thinking, develops your skills and makes you more humble than before.
But winter can also be just as intimidating for some and is not for everyone. Temperatures drop, day light gets shorter, winds can be brutal (as I write this, wind chill predictions are set at -30°F for the upcoming weekend) and snowfall can accumulate in record amounts. Many of us pack away our gear and don't get out as much until spring. Although nature can be unpredictable, it can equally be rewarding. For those who brave the season with the right equipment, getting outdoors during the winter can be an incredible and exhilerating experience.
One way to enjoy this is through winter camping. Winter camping has many benefits and can be a refreshing way to enjoy time outside and away from our often fast-paced lifestyles. Here are 11 reasons why you should try winter camping.
See Things In A New Way
With snow cover on a trail, along a river or at the top of your favorite peak, all of these places are completely transformed from how they looked over the summer. Bare trees allow for more open views and the night sky offers a greater glimpse of constellations, the Milky Way and possibly even Aurora Borealis.
Smaller Crowds & Solitude
During the other 3 seasons, some places can seem overcrowded. Once winter hits, the only place you will see a lot of people are ski resorts or shops. If you are the type of person who is looking to seek a little solitude, grab your pack and hit the trails. You may even be more likely to see wildlife, as the quiet environment encourages them to move more naturally.
There’s just something about being the first one out after a snowstorm. No tracks or evidence of others. You truly feel like you’re exploring a new hidden land.
Sleep In A Snow Cave Or Igloo
This is one of the greatest experiences of winter camping and everyone should give it a try. Snow caves can be designed in many ways and provide great protection and warmth (snow is a great insulator as most of it is air). No matter how cold it is outside, it can still feel just around 32°F.
Customize Your Campsite
With all of that snow around your site you can make anything that comes to mind such as a table, chair or a counter for cooking prep. Forgot a windscreen? You can even build a wall up to offer wind protection while using your backpacking stove. This is also a great option for those looking to get rid of a little pack weight.
Winter travel takes a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories. Sometimes 4,000 or more a day! Eating foods high in carbs, protein and fats will not only give you energy for your trip during the day, but it can also help your body maintain heat and provide warmth during your overnight.
Enjoy Different Activites
Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat bikes and skiing are just some of the ways you can travel during a winter backpacking or camping trip. All offer a great way to explore or get additional fitness in for those looking for a workout.
Unlimited Access To Water
Sure it may take a little longer, but if you have the means to melting snow down then you can find yourself surrounded with an unlimited water source.
Leave the insect repellent and bug nets at home. Hit the trails, tell stories around the campfire, enjoy the views and don’t worry about the mozzies.
Winter Sunrises Are Incredible
I highly recommend catching at least one sunrise any time of year, but there is something about waking up to the glow from the sun hitting snow covered surfaces. Sunsets are enhanced due to this too. You may want to get more than one in for the year after experiencing a new winter day.
Build Self- Confidence & Develop Skills
Along with the positive effects from being outside, winter camping allows you to try something new and maybe even endure and enjoy something you never would have thought was possible, Learn new skills, craft older ones and develop skills for future trips and everyday life tasks. You'll never know what your capable of until you give it a shot with a positive mindset.
Have you camped in the winter? Where, and what was your experience like? Share them in a comment below.