Get out and enjoy the winter

Filed in Expert Articles, General Information by on November 9, 2013

Tom Wiesen

When it comes to outdoor pursuits, you have to commit to getting outside. The couch will try to suck you in, the fire will beg your company, but you must resist the temptation of inaction. If you get out and play, winter will prove to be a delightful season of outdoor recreation.

Why do we need to get outside anyway? Because getting outside in nature and enjoying physical activity always makes us feel better. It helps us to keep things in perspective during our busy lives. Exercise gives us a release of tension, and helps us to maintain our physical condition keeping us young.

Whiners grow old prematurely. “Oh, it’s too cold” or “it’s too snowy” just doesn’t cut it. If I or someone else is sitting on the fence I like to say, “If we’re not having fun, we’ll come back home.” Amazingly once peeled from the couch, there’s always a great time to be had.

The sun always seems to come out, the scenery is so beautiful, and the fresh air feels great.

When I ponder the word recreation, I think how it is the same as re-creation. Just what is it that we’re trying to re-create? I think it’s a re-creation of how humans used to live in nature in the animal world. Like the animals, we had to spend every day fending for ourselves, gathering or hunting food, and not getting killed or sick along the way.

Now picture yourself having just spent a cold dark night outside with blowing snow nipping at your neck. As morning comes, think about how good that first solid ray of sun feels when it beams on your chest. You feel alive and present in the moment, feeling a connection with earth and all of its beings.

I think it is wise to set an agenda of activities or goals to accomplish during a given season. Is your goal to go backcountry telemark skiing in three different mountain ranges? Is it to go on a multi-day hut trip? Or is it to ski more days than ever on the ski mountain? Is it your goal to snowshoe five of your favorite trails? Or is it do that winter ascent of that distant high peak that’s been calling out to you for so long.

Keep in mind that dog walkers say they are walking the dog, but really they’re fifty percent walking themselves. People are animals too, and love to have a routine just as much as the basset hound and the yellow lab.

For some people, like ice climbers and backcountry skiers it’s a sense of adventure. They are willing to put up with long arduous approaches to finally reach the scary part and prove to themselves that they can hold it together when things get hairy. A person’s confidence skyrockets after achieving a physical feat that few others can pull off, and the adrenaline feels great.

I think scary challenging adventures mimic “the hunt”. Sort of we came, we saw, we kicked ass.

Some milder adventurers seek out relaxation such as cruising downhill on cross-country skis. Others still like their feet firmly planted on the ground such as with snowshoes. Of course, slower means of travel enables a person to see and hear more as they pass through nature.

Some people love the social aspect of a backcountry outing such as hut trips with friends, or challenging all day ascents to faraway mountaintops with two or three people in your party. Camaraderie and leadership play an important role in these outings because individuals need to cooperate as a team. Successful challenging backcountry trips can often lead to enhanced relationships and friendships.

How does going out on the trail affect our psychology? My experience is that when I’m headed out and walking away from civilization and home, my thoughts are outward. It is a time to ponder possibilities in life and the adventures that await us.

Conversely, on the way back home, I often have inward thoughts like where I fit into the world, and where my duties and responsibilities lay. Immersing myself in peaceful surroundings enables me to keep things in my life in perspective.

Planning and following through on our commitment to set aside time to enjoy some special outings makes us feel good. One thing is for sure; a trip into the mountains will always remind us that we are a very small part of a very big world.

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