I have not hiked a single trail this winter. Contrast this with the last few years when I had an almost weekly track record, if not more frequently. Last year, for instance, when I was temporarily (and by choice) out of work, I was winter hiking at least a couple days a week. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I thought for sure that the same would be true this year.
Instead, I’ve found myself in this reality: I’ve been working in a role that leaves me feeling exhausted and unmotivated. While winter hiking could very well have been my reprieve, I found myself unwilling to spend my precious weekends driving to trails, dealing with crowds at our local ski/winter sport hills, and putting up with the heavy, wet, clumpy west coast snow. As a result, and despite invitations to join others on the snowy trails, I’ve not ventured out even once.
Until this weekend.
We were blessed with the warmest of rocky mountain weather this weekend (i.e. temperatures just slightly below 0). When you are near the rockies and are greeted with semi-clear skies coupled with temperatures that warm, there is only one thing to do: hit the trails. And so we did. And from the second we stepped into closed forest, surrounded by nothing but lightly falling snow, snow-capped trees, and the gentle crunch of snow beneath our feet, my love for the winter hike came flooding back.
There is something about winter hiking that is even more magical than summer hiking. There air is crisp and fresh. There is a deep silence that only snow can bring. Snow evens out the trail surface, making snow hiking far more leisurely and less technical than summer hiking. In the rockies at least, there tends to be fewer people on trails than here in Vancouver, giving the experience an air of solitude. It’s also amazing what a blanket of pristine snow can do for normally dull terrain. Even forest-enclosed trails become portrait worthy. I had somehow forgotten all of this and it took only two hours on trail to remind me.
If there’s snow and trails to be found where you are, I strongly encourage you to bundle up and head to the mountains, find a suitable trail (i.e. a trail that’s meant to be hiked or snowshoed in the winter), put one foot in front of the other, breathe deep and find the peace and solitude you didn’t even know you were missing. I just might do the same again very soon in my neck of the woods (despite the heavy, wet snow, neverending cloud cover and hordes of hikers).