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Feb 07 2013

Saying yes to winter adventure

Voices of NexGen: Get out and give winter recreation a chance

Featured, Voices of NexGen

By Garrett Koepke
MWA Intern

If there was one word I would use to describe winter, it would be LONG.  The first snows usually come early November in the mountains, and the white stuff clings to the mountainsides and high valleys till mid to late June.  For some, such a long winter season is nothing but glorious. For others, it’s annoying.

What do I mean by that? Simply put, some people love winter sports. There’s nothing better than hitting the slopes with friends and shredding the gnar like a pro. Many a weekend is filled with backcountry adventures on snowshoes. Not everyone spends their days on the mountain though. Some would like nothing more than to load up their pack and hike into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness for a weekend in their shorts and Merrells. They just can’t wait for summer.

I am one of those people that gets anxious for backpacking season after about two months of snow. I’ll wake up one day, think of how great it would be to do some canoeing, and then realize there’s still three months of winter left. Those days usually end up being pretty long...

I’m starting to realize though, that all the fun stuff doesn’t necessarily happen in summer. The extent of winter recreation that happened in my family when I was growing up consisted of downhill skiing every once and a while, and sledding. Needless to say, I’m not very well acquainted with the possibilities of winter recreation. The truth is, however, winter can be just as exciting as summer.

Here’s the point: if you are a person that longs for summer as soon as the holidays are over, maybe it’s time to explore winter. If you love hiking in the summer time, try snowshoeing in the winter. If you’re a mountain junkie and spend days on a mountain bike in the warm months, do some downhill skiing in the cold ones. If you are addicted to backpacking, give winter-camping a go. The list is endless.

I grew up in a house where winter sports weren’t a big deal. No one in my immediate family skiis or snowboards. No one owns a pair of snowshoes. I’d bet my left leg no one  has ever gone winter camping. As such, I’ve never really pursued winter recreation. Every year in February, I start wishing summer was here. But I’ve realized recently  that my wishing isn’t going to speed up the coming of summer.

So I’ve come to a conclusion. If winter isn’t going anywhere, why not explore it? Joseph Campbell said, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” Don’t wait till summer to say yes to adventure. Explore winter while it’s here. Summer will be here before you know it.