Sunday, June 10, 2007

Winter Woes and Battling Boredom

For those of us down in the southern hemisphere, winter has just arrived. For campers, it's a sad time, with months of inhospitable weather ahead and nary a trip in sight. (Those of you in the northern hemisphere - you can bookmark this for later!)

Sure, we could go winter camping. But here in the Wellington area that means strong (often gale) winds threatening to blow you off your feet - and in my case often succeeding! It means cold nights, and those mornings where getting out of your sleeping bag seems like pure folly. And perhaps most importantly it can mean dangerous, icy peaks which require crampons and ice axes.
I may sound like a wimp, but it just doesn't hold a lot of appeal for me. Frankly, I would rather try winter camping with snowshoes or cross-country skis. As long as there's a hut or cabin or something at the end of the day's trails. But that isn't an option here. So instead, we need to be creative about how to pass a non-camping winter without getting too antsy. Here are my suggestions:

1-Seize the day
Even the nastiest winter has the occasional nice day. If one of those days happens to fall on a weekend, take advantage of it to go on a day hike. Without the worry of staying warm overnight, walking in the woods on a winter's day can really be quite lovely. Just make sure you bring lots of layers in case the nice weather comes to a sudden end!

2-Plan ahead
If you've got some big (or not-so-big) plans for next summer, use the winter to read up on your potential trips and make some plans. Think about how many long weekends you'll have, and what kinds of trips you want to do. Do you need to book off some additional vacation days to complete your dream trip? Be the first in your office to get those requests in so they can't say no!

3-Go armchair camping
Winter nights go faster with a good book. Why not find a tale of adventure that will keep you feeling close to the wilderness, even when you're not out there. The library is full of real-life stories about expeditions to the arctic, dessert crossings, getting lost in a jungle, and struggling up the world's highest mountains. If you can't go on an adventure of your own, go on someone else's!

4-Gear up
Just because you aren't going away every weekend doesn't mean you should lose interest in your local outdoors shops. Often, stores will discount some great gear in the off-season to make room for next year's new models. If there's a piece of gear you've been coveting, have a look now and then to see if the price has been reduced. Auction websites are also great places to browse during the off-season as people get rid of gear they're convinced they won't be using again. There's bound to be someone out there who bought a brand new tent, decided it was too small (or too heavy, or whatever) after the first couple of trips, and doesn't want it anymore.

5-Stay active
There's nothing more painful than the day after the first backpacking trip of spring! It's hard to keep your body in shape over the winter. Make sure you don't turn completely to mush! Get regular exercise however and wherever you can. Join a gym, go to drop-in yoga or pilates classes, or go up and down the stairwells at work over your lunch hour. When it comes time to get back outside, you'll be much less likely to injure yourself, or spend the next week in agony with stiff muscles.

As I sit in front of the heater, spring feels a long way off. But if I can manage to follow my own advice I'm sure it will be here before I know it. In the mean time, I think I'll go put on the kettle. A cup of tea will warm me up for a bit.


Frank and Sue said...

Hi, Having a skim of your blog and really enjoying the read, especially this post about winter "tramping". We just got back from a few days in Tasmania and really enjoyed the winter hiking. Unfortunately the snow was only patchy and 3 days after we finished they got a dump of about a metre!! Anyway we took some nice pics so check it out

keep up the great work and I will check out your book
Cheers from Oz, Frank

Maple Kiwi said...

Yes, Tas is on my list of places to do some trips. Unfortunately it's a long list, and it just keeps getting longer! I'll check out your pics, although they will only make me want to go more!

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