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.
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?