Careers, family responsibilities, home ownership and lives in general provide a myriad of excuses for not winter camping. To help get out winter camping more frequently consider adopting some of these suggestions.
Set an annual goal. One winter I set a goal of getting out once every month from November through April. Six very different winter camping trips in six very different circumstances ranging from overnights to multi-day trips; hot and cold tenting.
Schedule trips in advance. Write your planned trips on your calendar to avoid conflicts. If it is on the calendar you can avoid the commitment to pick up junior from the Chuckie Cheese birthday party for his classmate. Once you have something scheduled in advance with somebody, it’s harder to talk yourself out of it. We typically schedule trips during the week between Christmas and New Years, during Martin Luther King weekend and during President’s week in February (most educational system have a break then).
Get a winter camping partner or a small group. With more people involved you are less likely to back out of a trip knowing that others are relying on you.
Constantly research your next trip. Look for a new place to explore. Seeing new sites will get you enthused.
Find locations close to home. A benefit of winter camping is that a short hike of a mile can lead you to seclusion. Finding these close locations will give you a place to go for a quick overnight camping experience on a Friday after work and still get home by noon without committing an entire weekend
Organize your winter camping gear in advance. Create a gear closet, room or shelf where all your essential winter camping gear is kept. When the opportunity for an impromptu weekend trip arises, you simply throw everything into the car, and your ready to roll. This saves valuable prep time for the trip an allows you to get on the road much faster.
Join an outdoor club and/or volunteer to lead a hike. Leading a hike requires skill and planning, but if you sign up to lead a hike, you’re committed. You have to go. There’s a risk of making your hike a chore, but there’s the reward of being in charge for once in your life. Bear in mind you should do this only for a trail you know by heart, and you should pick the brains of other hike leaders to make sure you know what you’re doing before you head out. Sure, it complicates your hike, but it’s better than no hike at all, right?
Volunteer with Scouts or take kids out winter camping. After you’ve led a few group hikes and have a feel for it, you can kick it up a notch and volunteer to help other grown-ups take kids out on the trail. Signing up for a volunteer program requires major fortitude because groups create obstacle courses to a) find the committed volunteers; and b) keep the creeps and flakes away. So be prepared. Sample groups: Boy Scouts of America | Girl Scouts of America; a local chapter of an outdoor club such as the Adirondack Mountain Club.
Start your own winter camping group. Forming a winter camping group can be a major challenge Now that you’re an Authentic Leader of Hikes, you can start your own group. Sites like Meetup.com make it easy to automate the logistics of getting people to the trailhead. The key is to start with people you already know or share at least some common bond: co-workers, people from your church and so on. Google “winter camping clubs” and e-mail their leaders for tips on how to do it right. Leading a club is fraught with complications, for sure; if you’re not a natural-born-leader type it might not be the thing for you. But it would definitely remove most of your excuses for not winter camping.
Start a winter camping blog. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Anyway: having a winter camping blog forces you to:
- Pick someplace to hike.
- Hike someplace new every week.
- Keep a lookout for new/novel/nifty things that didn’t happen last week.
- Keep the customers satisfied.
Do Gear Reviews. I’ve gone winter camping with the main purpose being to use winter camping gear and write about here.
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