Winter can be a tough time of year for the pursuit of outdoor hobbies. When days are so short, it can become very difficult if not impossible to get outside after finishing your workday. There is no way to change daylight hours. So, rather than simply waiting for spring, here are my favorite ways to still feel connected to the outdoors even when short days make that especially difficult.
Get Outside EVERY Winter Weekend
This might seem obvious, but when you cant get outside after work, make sure you get outside when you aren’t working. For me, this means every weekend I’m picking at least one day to go skiing, snowshoeing, or ice fishing and I make sure to actually get out and do it. Cold dark weekend mornings make it especially tempting to stay inside and sleep in, but make use of every daylight minute you have. If you get the winter blues like I do, this time in the sun is super important to your mental health. That Netflix binge can wait until the sun goes down!
Go Out at Night
A good headlamp can extend your outdoor hours if you are interested in exploring after dark too. I’ve found that hiking at night in the winter can result in some pretty spectacular stargazing on clear nights. Just be careful to not put yourself in a dangerous situation if the weather gets too cold, or if your light source stops working. This winter I’m hoping to try out some nighttime ice fishing and will probably put out a video on this at some point as well. Some ski areas also offer night skiing which can be a welcome change of pace after a long workday.
Gear Check and Inventory for Summer
During warmer months, my adventure style changes. Contrary to winter, I like to make my summer plans very last minute with a “Carpe Diem” mentality, perhaps deciding on a Friday at 4PM to spend the weekend camping in the woods. However, it isn’t safe to leave civilization behind without being sure you have all the necessary gear for your trip. One way to allow this last minute planning is to spend some winter evenings setting up adventure boxes with all your gear for different trips. Make sure everything in the boxes are inventoried with a proper packing list and if things are missing, replace them as soon as you can. The last thing you want to happen is to open the box the day of your trip and realize that something needs to be replenished or replaced. That way, you can just grab the box and get out there.
Plan a Larger Summer Trip
Small trips can happen with minimal planning in the summer, but one way to certainly beat your winter blues and cabin fever can be planning out a bigger trip. Organizing friends, mapping routes, finding campsites, permitting and shopping for new gear are all important factors in planning a bigger trip, and the cold winter months are the begin this process. Sometimes this can add to your sense of cabin fever if you’re really itching to get out there, so find out for yourself if this idea works for you.
Learn a New Skill
One of the amazing things about the internet is the wealth of information available in every imaginable subject. Specifically for outdoor adventurers, you can find blogs, videos and instruction articles on everything from skiing moguls to hand-tying fishing flies. Find something that interests you and learn something new. My own current inspiration has been camping skills taught by YouTube video creator Joe Robinet. Spend your winter months learning some new skills that will help to make the warmer months more adventurous!