For many people, winter weather means feeling trapped inside. For those who do not enjoy winter sports, like snowshoeing or skiing, snow on the ground can mean sitting inside feeling sedentary and sad. Winter walking is a simple way to enjoy the kind of weather many people would rather not see at all.
Yes, snow is cold and wet, makes driving difficult and can disrupt the best-made plans, but a winter storm does not have to mean a day on the couch. One to six inches of snow is ideal for winter walking, so when those first winter storms start to blow in, rethink sitting around and head outside instead. Stepping out the front door and into the snow can actually make your day.
Walking in Snow is a Treat for Your Senses
There is a special change in the way the outdoors smells and sounds during a snowstorm. A type of silence that is uncommon in our modern society takes over. Car and truck noises are fewer and muted. There is a stillness in the air that lets normally quiet sounds seem louder — birds flitting from branch to branch, the whisper of snowflakes though tree limbs, the crunch of feet through the snow on the ground…
Other senses are charmed as well. If cold is a scent and not just a feeling, cold is what new-fallen snow smells like — crisp and tingling and clean. Your breath can be seen as plumes of frost. Remember the first time as a child you saw your breath on a cold day and how baffled and excited you were? Remember blowing over and over again into the air just to watch the cloud you created? That easy amusement still exists right out the front door on a snowy day.
Taking time to walk in the snow allows you to see things you never could in other conditions — the scurrying tracks of a mouse, with a line between the footprints where the tail dragged. Squirrel and rabbit trails, raccoon prints, dog and cat prints, the hop-marks of a bird — all of these become a story of activity you could not otherwise read.
Trees and shrubs and even puddles look different after a snowstorm — everything becomes a bit mysterious, a bit exotic and a bit more challenging to the senses — refreshing and new.
Winter Walking Isn’t Necessarily Winter Hiking
In many minds, hiking implies a rural setting and traveling for long distances. Hiking is a term that most people associate with unpaved trails through forests and over mountains. Winter walking does not need to include any of these things. Urban, suburban, small town or countryside — any setting is appropriate of a snowy excursion.
Whether you have a dusting of snow on the ground or several inches, a pair of light-weight waterproof shoes, wool socks, a warm coat, a hat and gloves readies you for your walk. Carrying a camera is also a great idea. All you have to do is step outside, put one foot in front of the other and look and breathe and take in all the sights and sounds and scents of a snowy wonderland.
Walking in snow is a simple pleasure that can feel like a big adventure. You don’t have to go far to feel like you have traveled a long way from your every day worries.