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Making the Winter Count

Posted by davidrosslevy , 17 December 2016 · 622 views

hiking snowshoeing skiing exploring camping roadtrips travel winter wildlife
The winter can be tough. Cold, short days tend to limit what we do and influence our mood and motivation. Though I've always had a reasonably consistent exercise regime, it definitely ebbs in the winter.
Sure there's great skiing in Colorado and the west, and plenty of local hikes to keep you moving.
But really 'cool' stuff - like the adventures we have in the summer - are harder to re-create in December. 
In recent years I've been more deliberate about making these months count. Mindset matters - just go! If you get a little creative with your destinations and itineraries, summer can effectively last 12 months.
A few ideas drawn from personal experience that have not only passed the time, but also taught me a great deal and broadened my perspective on places I thought I knew well:
  • A road trip to southern Utah can make you forget what season it is, and low winter light on brilliant red rock is arguably more photogenic than summer light.
  • Winter is a great time to see birds, especially raptors. Places like Barr Lake State Park are teeming with bald eagles, and best observed Dec-Mar.
  • Waterfalls, especially in the PNW, swell this time of year and see far fewer people. Try going to Multnomah Falls (OR) in May! December suddenly rocks in the Columbia River Gorge...
  • Extend business trips through the weekend. Trade shows in Las Vegas place you within 2.5 hours of Zion and Death Valley. LA-Orange County is within 2.5 hours of Joshua Tree (though couldn't blame anyone for heading to the beach instead).
  • Spend more time in visitor centers and take advantage of their education programs and resources. The winter is a great time to learn more about your favorite places, and rangers will often have a lot more time to speak with you.
  • Hike the coast. Seeing water is liberating and fulfilling, regardless of air temp. Places like Point Reyes (CA) see an influx of Elephant Seals starting in January. It's pretty amazing, and the males are absolutely enormous.
See, winter's not so bad! Just gotta make it count.

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