Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Camping...Why?

“I'm going to try winter camping this year,” my husband, Keith, announced.
“Really?” I responded. “Why?”
I was a little nervous about his answer. I mean, I thought we had a good marriage, but maybe not. He must want to flee. Why else would anyone want to go sleep in the snow in the middle of the mountains? Being a relatively reasonable person, I decided to wait for an answer before searching the Internet for a marriage counselor.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “It might be interesting.”
That was a good answer. After ten years of being with Keith, I am aware that he likes to delve into the extreme - marathons, hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in eight days, 100-mile bike rides on a Saturday in the summer.  
“Are you going alone?” I asked concerned. After all, I didn’t want him to slip off a cliff with a 40-pound backpack strapped to him, fall head first into a snow bank and not have anyone around to rescue him.
“No. Dennis got winter camping equipment for Christmas and wants to try it out.”
Dennis is Keith’s extreme athletic friend. What one doesn’t think of the other one will. Dennis’s wife, Margaret, and I often say, “We’re so glad they have each other.” That way they don't try to convince us to engage in these, let's say, different kind of activities.
So they made a plan, and I was fine with it. It gave me at least 24-hours of uninterrupted quiet to edit my novel for about the 20th time without Keith saying, “Are you revising that again?”
Just out of curiosity I asked once more, “Why do you guys want to camp out in the winter? Besides, it might be interesting.”
He thought for a minute. “I’m not sure. A little crazy, huh?”
Maybe.  Maybe not.
We know that spending time in nature is one of the best ways to find peace and maintain a positive attitude. Winters are cold and long in the Northeast. Nature enthusiasts need to go out to get a dose of tranquility despite the weather.
Here’s what says, “A winter landscape offers campers solitude, inspiration, natural quiet, and a place to get away. Winter camping can provide a haven from the pressures of our fast-paced, industrialized society, providing a place where one can seek relief from the noise, haste, and crowds.”
It does sound appealing and check out this picture of Keith hiking away from contemporary living into a winter paradise.

Looks peaceful. In fact, next year I just may join him although I’d love to find a rustic cabin with a fireplace at the end of the trail as opposed to a tent.

Other advantages of winter camping according to include:
  • The clear and open view is unparalleled. Deciduous trees shed their leaves and provide unobstructed vistas of the surrounding landscape. 
  • Clear night skies offer a great star grazing opportunities.
  • Winter camping provides a different perspective into nature than offered during the other three seasons. 
  •  Night time sounds carry easily enhancing an audio landscape of coyotes, owls, trees snapping and ice cracking.
  • Camping in the winter inspires a feeling of independence and gives people confidence in their survival skills.
  • There is a satisfaction in learning new skills or extending your current outdoor skills.
  • There is little competition from other campers. Camping sites that are overly popular during summer months are rarely visited or usually only visited by day hikers.
My almost favorite:
  • There are no mosquitoes or bears.
My absolute favorite:
  • One can justify eating excessive amounts of snacks and chocolate for energy.
Take heed, winter camping does require skill and special equipment. Organizations such as the Adirondack Mountain Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, etc. are great resources and often  arrange group trips.


             Winter Snow by Chris Tomlin and Audrey Assad


On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the forty-five original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. For ten excruciating weeks they suffered deprivations beyond imagining, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable. This is their story -- one of the most astonishing true adventures of the twentieth century (From


Yosemite National Park

"I must return to the mountains - to Yosemite. I am told that the winter storms there will not be easily borne, but I am bewitched, enchanted, and tomorrow I must start for the great temple to listen to the winter songs and sermons preached and sung, only there." - John Muir from a letter to Mrs. Ezra Carr (November 15, 1869). 


  1. Nice article Peggy. No doubt you will be eager to get out there next winter and share the experience with Keith. Some additional advantages of winter camping for your consideration:
    * Absence from your spouse makes the heart grow fonder. (That's why my spouse often encourages me to go away on these trips.)
    * A roaring fire on a bitter cold night is pleasantly hypnotizing.
    * A little uncertainty along with some manageable risk provides a bit of a rush.
    * On a short winter trip (a long one would be nuts!), the extra weight in your pack of an alcoholic beverage is no big deal.
    * A little pain enhances one's appreciation of the comforts of home that we tend to take for granted. A LOT of pain and discomfort REALLY enhances the appreciation of things like heat, a soft bed, a hot shower, and a toilet (especially at 3am).
    * It's amusing to watch someone slide along on their back over the ice with a 40 lb. pack strapped to their back. So is watching them try to get back on their feet. Funny stuff.
    * A challenging winter experience is an effective method to gauge your physical and mental capacity, or lack thereof!

    I hope this helps.

  2. I like yours way better than mine. I'm almost sold.