In our never-ending effort to stay active, we’ve made hiking a year round activity. We’ll technically we didn’t “make” it year round. It has always been year round for those who love the outdoors, but until last year I was not among them. Fortunately, I’ve learned to embrace the cold and actually discovered that I like winter hiking once you get past the initial “wow, it’s freezing” feeling. Once you get moving, the cold disappears.
The challenge with winter hiking, and other winter activities, is that you’re dependent on the type of winter mother nature brings. Lots of snow, great – break out those snowshoes. Not a lot of snow – hiking shoes it is. Icy conditions – throw on some crampons.
It’s not a big deal, but which conditions you get and what options you might do on a weekend are always in flux. Just because you went snowshoeing one weekend, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same conditions the next week. So, I’m going with the flow, and trying to commit to getting outside as much as possible this winter regardless of the conditions. So far, we’ve been successful. Here’s a recap of three recent winter outings.
Back Cove Trail. This 3 1/2 mile loop is a popular destination, although there is a bit less activity in the colder months. The Sunday we went, things had iced over a good amount but even though we hadn’t brought our crampons, we were able to maneuver fairly easily. I kept repeating my mantra to my husband, “walk like a penguin”. No falling and slipping allowed. This trail is urban with minimal tree coverage so you’re exposed to the elements which was made immediately clear to us by the chilling winds. Fortunately, there are lots of views to enjoy as you walk this loop, which help to distract from the cold, and by the time we reached the back part of the trail there was significantly less wind to deal with making everything a bit warmer and more pleasant. There are mileage markers all along the trail letting you know each new quarter to half mile section. We often hike without any idea of how far along we are so it was a fun change to have the markers tick off our progress around the loop.
Mackworth Island, Falmouth. I’ve hiked his trail before and blogged about it in my post #atozchallenge | H is for Hiking Mackworth Island, Falmouth. I enjoy this trail. It’s incredibly picturesque and a fairly short circular loop. Our intention had been to go snowshoeing, but alas the previous weeks warmer temperatures and drizzling rain had removed almost all the snow. We ended up hiking it, although I did have my crampons at the ready. Fortunately, the areas where we encountered patches of ice were easily avoided by trekking along the side of the trail instead. It was fairly mild the day we were there and my layers of long underwear helped me to heat up quickly, so I spent the rest of the afternoon warm and coat free. After our hike, we headed into Portland for a celebratory snack at the East Ender.
The Lake. We live on a lake, and don’t spend nearly enough time enjoying that fact. I mean, certainly we have a lot of fun but life gets so busy that I sometimes feel that we don’t use it as much as I’d like. But, there are some perfect moments, including a recent Sunday when the lake was a clear, wonderful sheet of ice with no snow and minimal tracks to blemish the surface. Time to break out the skates, or at least for one of us. My husband is a great skater having grown up playing ice hockey. I am not having grown up occasionally skating on the pond across the street from my house but never to great success. Plus, I no longer own skates. So, he skated and I walked the lake with the crampons which worked remarkably well on the ice. It was so much fun. We were not alone in our excitement. The lake was covered in other outside adventurers skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling and just enjoy the perfect winter day. I think it’s time to get some skates and work on improving my skills. It’s crazy not to take advantage of our back door natural rink.
We’re still waiting for the snow to return so we can try some snowshoe adventures too. I’m intrigued by the many moonlight hikes held throughout the state and hope to get to one soon. There’s a storm coming this week so it won’t be long and by the time this post goes live I’ll probably have tackled that winter adventure already too.
Do you have a favorite winter activity? Is it something you do frequently or just a few times each winter?