After weeks spent inside, hiding away from the world and the escalating events of 2020, I needed to get out. I needed to hike. But it was cold and windy, and everything was buried under a foot of snow. Surely I was better off staying indoors, and seeing what was new on Netflix.
I did it anyway. I moved to the mountains to be closer to the wilderness, and spend my weekends getting lost in the woods. A million trails, parks, and historic sites now made up my backyard. What was the point if I was going to spend one-fourth of the year hiding inside?
I bundled myself up with every single piece of cold-weather clothing I had and set off to see what awaited me. I expected death from exposure. Instead, I found a new way to enjoy the world around me. Despite the cold and extra effort involved, I was left invigorated and energized.
Winter hiking is an amazing experience. It’s great for your body and mind. If you miss getting out, here are some reasons why you should go out and explore this winter:
There are Fewer Crowds
As a species, we already spend a lot of time indoors, and 2020 has done little to help with that. With so many of our normal outlets for socializing closed off to us, many people tried hiking for the first time. While an interest in the outdoors is always a good thing, it also led to overcrowding of the more popular trails. At a time when we’re supposed to distance ourselves from one another, that was a serious issue.
But with winter here, those crowds have all but vanished. Trails are more open, and a lot of the limits that many parks put in place have vanished. If there was a spot that you’ve always wanted to see, then winter is the perfect time to go if you want to avoid other hikers. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
In 2019 my girlfriend and I traveled to Reno during the winter. On one particularly less-cold day, we took a drive out to Lake Tahoe, having never seen it before. Instead, we found it empty, to the point where we were able to have an entire beach to ourselves for most of the day. It was a…