5 Reasons Snow Hiking Can Change Your Life
Do you remember, when you were a kid, going out into your backyard after a newly fallen snow? Everything was white and soft and quiet. The air shimmered with floating crystals, and it felt like your yard, and the entire world was one and the same. The crisp air carried a spark into your lungs with each breath you took in. Anything was possible.
Whether you remember this experience from times gone by or its something you’ve never had and still long for, I can personally say, that it can be found by snow hiking. Snow hiking has the potential to change your life yet many people have never even considered it. And if you’re one of those people, I want to change that!
Here are my top 5 reasons why snow hiking should make its way to the top of your to-do list this winter.
The quiet is electrifying
A forest in the summer is transparent in its life. You can hear the mountain chickadee’s and the blue-eyed junco’s singing from the trees. You can see the green tipped underbrush stretching toward life and light. You can feel the constant buzz of the native insects dancing at the edge of your awareness.
But in winter, all is silence.
The silence holds the promise of life close to its heart, buried under several feet of snow. You cannot hear it, you cannot see it, you cannot feel it. And yet, something about it tickles your consciousness. You know that life is there. And you know, that it knows you are there.
This silence, bursting with possibility, is broken only by the whisper of your footsteps and the occasional settling of the earth as tree branches drop their burdens of snow.
This silence must be experienced, must be felt, to be understood. So walk into the forest, hike through the snow and let the quiet surround you.
Solitude is good for you
“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Many of us, if not most, do not know how to be alone. Loneliness is a rising health risk, and many have called the newer generations, the loneliest generations in America. Understanding how to be alone can help take the power out of loneliness. Snow hiking is an opportunity to go places few others will go and practice being your own companion. Popular summer trails may be more or less deserted in the winter time.
A safe way to get a good dose of alone time is to go snow hiking with a friend and then one of you hang back far enough that you can no longer see eachother. This way you are within shouting distance if there is a problem, but you are still able to experience the healing nature of the winter scenery and solitude.
Remember, please be cautious and prepared. Check the weather forecast. Don’t hike alone in unfamiliar areas. And be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Build new bonds
At the opposite end of the spectrum, snow hiking can be a great opportunity to forge new friendships and strengthen old ones. Listening to the silence with a close friend can be a very special experience. And participating in any new activity can help you find a common interest with someone you may not have known well before.
Hidden treasures abound
Many secrets lie behind the snow-laden pine trees or just beneath the blanket covering the earth. You may find treasures waiting around every corner.
Perhaps a frozen ice-flow forms from seep springs in the cliff wall. Perhaps a babbling brook has carved out tunnels for itself underneath the snow drifts. Perhaps the boughs of a giant spruce tree create a snow cave for you to crawl inside. Maybe you will find a perfect snow slide down a steep hill.
The critters write their stories with their footprints across the snow as they conduct their business of survival. They leave a record for you to read that you could never find in summer.
Beat the SAD’s
Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression or the winter blues) because winter brings shorter days, colder weather and therefore less exposure to the outdoors. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
It is a well-studied fact that time spent in the outdoors works wonders for reducing depression and anxiety. Winter does not have to stop you from receiving the benefits of the natural world. Don’t let the cold scare you. Snow hiking is the perfect way to continue to be nurtured by the earth throughout the winter. In fact, every reason I have listed thus far is a contributor to helping you stay mentally and physically healthy.
Time spent in nature is a form of meditation. Winter hiking can help you reach a state of flow, release stress, and experience a state of renewal.
See the world from a whole new perspective
The world experiences a kind of rebirth in the snow. Winter bathes the earth in a new, softer, brighter skin. Even your most familiar stomping grounds become new territory to explore.
This new perspective brings with it new challenges to overcome. These challenges can help you grow and increase in your confidence and abilities. You can learn to navigate safely in winter landscapes, dress properly for the weather, or even how to decipher animal tracks.
Let the winter world teach you something new.
I use the term snow hiking but I mean to encompass many forms of winter travel. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two other ways to access each of the benefits mentioned in this article.
I hope you will let yourself be dazzled and choose to go snow hiking. The world is still waiting as you sit inside your house. Don’t wait for it to get warm again. Take advantage of the amazing opportunity to experience nature in one of the most pristine seasons.
If you enjoy hiking in the snow and have an experience you would like to share, please reach out in the comments below.
12 thoughts on “5 Reasons Snow Hiking Can Change Your Life”
I lived in Alaska for 22 years, and I did go snow shoeing, hiking in the snow, and of course skiing. I found snow shoeing and hiking have the rewards as you have listed. For Alaskans, the winters have very short days and a lot of darkness. So for me, getting out and doing these things helped tremendously! It was a necessity for me, or I would have went stir crazy. Great information!
Thanks for sharing! It’s so great that spending time out in the snow helped you deal with the short days.
Thanks for sharing 5 great reasons to go snow hiking. Your words are so poetic and magical, I almost felt like I was already out on a hike in the snow. I have to agree with you,there is something extra fresh in the air after a fresh snowfall. I live on a farm. Even my livestock enjoy getting out of the barn, into the warm sunshine for chance to kick up their heels as they play in the fresh snow. So, I had never really thought about the peacefulness of a hike in the snow. Next time it snows, I will have to get up early and simply go on a hike in the snow. Great suggestion. Thanks.
I’m glad you liked it Sondra! Wishing you a most magical snow hike!
When I was young it was always fun to be out in the fresh fallen snow, as people grow older we lose that ability to think about winter in the same way. Reading your article just now made me realize that even if it is cold out a fresh fallen snow would be an ideal time to go for a walk in the woods. The beauty of the trees, the unmarked trails, the wildlife footprints, and mostly the solitude to just listen and be amazed at nature in all that beauty, now I cannot wait for a nice snow so I can actually go do this.
I hope it snows soon for you Susan! Since you enjoyed this article you may want to check out my articles about how to stay warm and winter hiking socks. Being prepared will help you have a safe and magical snow adventure.
Wow, what a well written and entertaining article! You are so right that snow hiking can have a huge impact on your life, I know the feeling you are talking about as I have gone snow hiking/shoeing myself. I think a little activity, especially in the outdoors can do everyone some good! What is your favourite part about snow hiking?
To be quite honest I think the silence of a snowy landscape is my absolute favorite part! What about you?
Great article Mariah!
I have never been snow hiking myself, but reading this makes me feel like I’m missing out. I would definitely like to try this with a group of friends. I am usually one to enjoy my solitude, but being that I’ve never been before I would feel much more comfortable going with a group of people. Do you have suggestions on what to bring along for a snow hiking journey?
Great idea to go with friends. You can always do a short solitary hike by hanging back from the group for a bit. I will be writing an article about what to bring with you when you snow hike so keep an eye out for that. But, to get you started, make sure to wear good boots, layers, and bring lots of water! For some more info on understanding good layering, practices click here. Also make sure you know where you’re going, it can be easier to lose the trail when it’s covered in snow if not a lot of people have hiked in that area.
I would like to thank you for the wonderous moment you have taken time to provide to me.
Mitchill, thank you so much for reaching out! I am so glad you enjoyed my article.