Monday, December 30, 2013

hiking in a winter wonderland

It's hands-down the best time for tromping in the woods.  Winter means:
1. no boggy, soggy, impassably wet spots
2. no biting bugs
3. no stinging nettle, thistles, poison ivy, poison oak
4. no overgrown, impassable brushy areas
In short, you're crazy not to take advantage of the situation.  If you've never attempted a winter hike, throw on some layers and get out there before the snow melts and the mosquitoes hatch.

My first attempt involved cross-country skis--alas!  The snow was too deep and I ended up plowing my way through inches of fluffy stuff--imagine trying to ski and the snow is up to your knees!  I made it as far as the woods and backtracked to switch out my skis for snowshoes.  Much better.

My first treks were in the evening.  One's eyes adjust quickly to moonlight and bright snow--I only scraped my face on one branch.  Jax and I tromped far together, crossing the frozen creek and scaring up deer.  No owls unfortunately, which would have been a treat.   The drifts were so high that we couldn't find our path back, so we ended up cutting a brand new trail until we found it.  Once on our tracks, it was an easy hike home.

Winter woods are silent except for the crunch of my snowshoes and the occasional plop of snow dropping to the ground.  The snow muffles the extra noise from the highway, too.  I like to imagine I'm lost, although I can always spot a light in the distance to guide me in the right direction. 

Mr. B accompanied me the other afternoon.

We stuck to snowshoes, Mr. B and me, but now that we had a warmish day and I blazed a path with my snowshoes, skiing conditions are great.  Jax and I skied almost five miles this morning--right over the fields and wetlands.

You can find plenty of tracks and scat in the snow.  Excellent time to take inventory of what's living in your area.  Below are deer tracks and scat.

Deer paths criss and cross and crisscross every which way.  A smart hiker follows a deer path because deer are lazy and always take the same route, so it'll be packed down a little and easy to pass through.

I'm fond of naked trees--all those limbs and branches as far as I can see.

Besides getting a clear view of nests, winter allows one to examine strange seed pods.

It's not as cold as you'd think.  I wear a t-shirt, fleece and jacket, sweat pants, snow pants, hat, socks, gloves and boots.  That's plenty of clothes--start moving and most of the time you end up stripping off layers because you get sweaty.

 Mr. B will head through any kind of brush, even on all fours.  He's also a silent hiking partner, which I appreciate.  He pays close attention to the details outside, pointing out stuff I don't notice.

 Rabbit tracks!

I should have smiled, but I was concentrating on holding the camera at a good angle.  Trust me, tromping in the woods this way makes me happy--even if I have hat-head.

Spill it, reader.  Are you a winter hiker?


  1. You have a lot of snow on the ground! We went hiking around the place on Saturday, but it was a mild 50 degrees here :-)

  2. Looks like a beautiful way to spend some time outdoors. I have been sick and am missing my walking, but plan to attempt a short walk today - there is nothing better :-)

  3. So pretty! We've had lots of rain, but no snow that sticks.

  4. Your comment box has a way of eating my comments when I am halfway through a really good one and I can never rewrite it as well. I would like to do what you did in the woods and the snow because it looks like an awful lot of fun. Being a city woman, I never get that opportunity. Consider yourself blessed.

  5. I love the look of bare branches against a bright winter sky. Beautiful!

  6. YOU! A picture of you :) Gorgeous woods you have, all over. I remember moving from upstate NY to Chicago in my 20s--it was colder, but a lot less SNOWY. We have cloud cover nearly every day all winter long, but Chicago (and where you are in Wisc) gets that wonderful winter sunshine. Hike? YES. The beagle and I have walked about 3 miles, I also ran a couple miles and also walked to the PO and to take care of chickens...that will leave me short some steps today, but it is so blustery and icky I don't want to go out again. In case that seems like a lot of steps, to me it is a low number: I am a marathoner :)

  7. Awesome! The 40 degree weather a few days ago made for perfect hiking weather. Unfortunately it is too cold now. Time to stay inside by the fire.
    I love all the pictures. Thanks for taking us along on your hike!
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2014!

  8. Oh ya... hats definitely do a number on the hair do. I pretty much wear some kind of hat year round so I feel you pain. xox

  9. You're so lucky to have snowy woods to wander through! I used to love cross country skiing, when we lived in Buffalo. There's very little opportunity for it here in central Virginia.

  10. These pics make me miss the snow and being alone and surrounded by white, quiet and space. So beautiful.

  11. I like to think I would be if I lived there. I DID just spend $200 on a pair of waterproof boots for my eldest son to ensure his feet stay warm and dry while he snowshoes :)

  12. I have long wanted to try snowshoes and cross country skis. Where we live, they might get used once or twice a winter, maybe more in an unusual year.

    Instead, I walk in all kinds of weather -- cold or hot, wet or dry. Rain, snow, and ice do not deter me. If it's raining, I wear my boots and a raincoat. If it's snowy or icy, I go with a parka and put Yaktrax on my snow boots. Really, I'll take extreme cold over extreme heat any day.

  13. Ah, it is all so beautiful! After our big snowstorm a couple weeks ago, I went out to walk the property. Nothing like hiking you are doing, but there were plenty of tracks to follow and figure out. I was happy to see that while many were stalking the chicken fence, none were able to get in.
    Here's to many more lovely walks in 2014!

  14. Thank you for taking us with you on that glorious trek thru the snowy woodlands.

  15. If you're that lovely with hat head, I'd be intimidated by your gorgeosity with a full blow out.

    LOVELY stuff, these activities. Yes and YES.

  16. I have happy memories of skiing on a moonlit trail -- the kind of memory that feeds me deep down in my soul. I hope to one day own snowshoes and a multitude of opportunities to use them. Right now, in my town, the streets that get sunshine and use by vehicles are bare and mostly dry (freezing fog is a problem at night) but the shady side streets are still quite dangerous on foot.


Spill it, reader.