As temperatures drop, often so does participation in outdoor activities, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There is beauty and adventure to be found in nature, all year round.
I’ve been surprised to find that many of the activities I normally engage in during the warmer months are equally enjoyable, if not more so, during the winter months.
One of the biggest challenges to overcome during the winter is staying warm amid a drop in temperature. Through proper planning, this doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying nature. One way I’ve been enjoying staying outside is by engaging in physical activities that keep me moving. While it may be unpleasant to first step outside in the frigid winter months, a little bit of movement can get you surprisingly warm, rather quickly.
A few weekends back, I went on my first backpacking trip to Laurel Snow State Natural Area. The weather forecast was quite daunting, with chilly temperatures during the day and even more frigid temperatures at night. In preparation for these temperatures, I threw on layers over layers, determined to stay comfortable. When my friends and I set off for our hike, we were a bit chilly, but after the first half mile of our journey, we all paused to peel off a few layers.
As we kept moving, I was comfortable in my base layers and could have even been comfortable in a t-shirt. When we got to camp, I was thankful to have the additional layers in my pack that I had peeled off earlier. This serves as a reminder that while It is certainly important to dress according to the temperature shared on the weather forecast, it is equally important to anticipate how your wardrobe can adapt to keep you comfortable the entire time you’re outside. With heavy gear on my back, I found winter temperatures to enhance my experience, rather than be a factor that held me back outside.
There is beauty to be found in nature, all year round. In the summer, there is an abundance of green; spring is dotted with the delicate colors of flowers; and fall is marked with vibrant orange and reds. But winter holds its own beauty, too. There is beauty in absence and in space, and through a lack of color and noise, you can observe things you wouldn’t normally. Freshman Maryn Pope explored the College Woods one February day, and found herself to be more aware of the flora and fauna that surrounded her. She shared that without all the leaves on the trees, she was able to see through the trees down to the creek, a unique view she couldn’t get before.
Arguably one of the greatest reasons to stay outside, even during the winter, is that your favorite places are often less populated when the temperatures are a bit cooler. During the winter months, sophomore Kailtin Koster has found more room in even the most popular of hiking destinations. On a snowy day, while hiking the Chimney Tops, Koster only passed one fellow hiker. The Chimney Tops is a very well trafficked hike in the Smokies because of the stunning views it provides of the National Park. Large crowds of people can make it more difficult to enjoy the stunning scenery.
For the low cost of throwing on a few extra layers, you can be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and therapeutic sounds of nature, uninterrupted by large groups of people.