5 Reasons to Keep Hiking in the Winter

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Here I share my 5 Reasons to Keep Hiking in the Winter.

By Jessica Shouse

Sure, it’s cold outside, but that’s no reason to stay inside! There seems to be a common misconception that hiking is an activity reserved for the warmer seasons. I respectfully disagree! In fact, winter might be my favorite season to get out and explore the trails: Imagine yourself inside a giant snow globe, surrounded by snow-covered pines and snow-capped peaks. Forest floors are encapsulated by a fluffy white blanket, and silence so serene.

The rewards for winter hiking are huge.

Here are my top 5 Reasons to Keep Hiking in the Winter and keep your hiking boots out of the closet and laced up year-round:

 

  1. Winter hiking provides new challenging ways to explore.

Winter hiking does require a bit more preparation and some different gear. Traction devices such as Yaktrax and MICROspikes are extremely handy. Depending on conditions, snowshoes can also be very beneficial, as are trekking poles and waterproof boots. Many experienced winter hikers take skis or split-boards deep into the backcountry.

The snow provides a completely different experience. You can explore the wilderness in a whole new way. Terrain also changes in winter. Areas that typically require steep scrambles up rocks become engulfed in snow and are much easier to approach.

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  1. Winter hiking provides for new views.

It is not uncommon for trials to shift in winter. If you can take the leap, bundle up and get out on your favorite trail then I promise you will be treated to new and different views that will not disappoint.

Waterfalls and lakes freeze over. Pine and aspen trees become dusted with shimmering white snow. Mountain peaks become snow-capped, as if dipped in vanilla frosting. The change in the familiar will reward you in many ways – just make sure to freshen up on your navigation skills before you head out in case the worn trail is hidden and landmarks appear different.

 

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  1. Solitude, solitude, solitude!

Ever go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park on a weekend in July? I don’t recommend it, unless battling for a parking space and trail space is your idea of fun (I’ll give you my top-secret tips for visiting RMNP soon!). I am an introvert. I like my space and need time alone to myself. I go to the mountains to get away from people. To connect with nature.

Winter hiking allows a nice, quiet space for reflection and solitude. The winter landscape provides a silence so deep it actually warms and refreshes the soul. And what better way to soak up some precious winter sunlight, which triggers your body’s ability to produce mood-boosting vitamin D than by spending a day outside surrounded by all that cottony white stuff?

 

Jessica Shouse

 

  1. Winter hiking is great for your physical and mental health.

Sometimes summer hiking leaves me feeling sore and worn-out. The constant pounding my joints are subjected to sometimes leave me feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck. But in winter it’s a little different. I believe the soft surface of snow provides more cushion. Many of those rocky spots and uneven terrain become buried, making for a much smoother adventure that is much gentler on your body and mind. Hiking in winter can also help alleviate seasonal affect disorder, boost your immune system, and prevent some of the negative connotations winter is so famous for.

Research also shows that hiking in winter burns more calories and fat than when hiking in more traditional conditions. Marching in snow will add some extra resistance to help rev up the calorie burning. Cold temps help out, too – your body has to work a bit harder to maintain 98.6 when temps drop below freezing, which helps burn those calories. [Schlinger, Amy (2018, Nov, 27) Winter Workouts That Burn an Insane Amount of Calories.

 

  1. Hot drinks and food taste even better after a winter hike.

Who doesn’t love a nice cold beer after a long summer hike? I opt for an ice cold Coke, but you get my drift. It is always nice to reward your efforts. The same is true after spending a day in frigid temps trudging through snow – your piping hot mug of hot cocoa becomes a well-earned treat rather than a guilty pleasure.

 

I used to despise the cold, snow and ice like a bird flocking to Florida. Then I realized with a little extra prep, there is a whole untouched world just waiting to be explored in winter. There is not much that beats a day on the trail after a fresh dusting of snow. Some of my most memorable hiking moments have occurred on my winter adventures. Getting outside is crucial for me. I’ve found nothing shakes off the winter blues like the crunch of snow underfoot and the sting of crisp winter air on my face.

So do you agree with my 5 Reasons to Keep Hiking in the Winter? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Jessica Shouse

 

Blogger, Reviewer and Multiple Contributor at | Website

Jessy is a 30 something, wife, mother, photographer, blogger, gear reviewer and avid nature lover. Nature, hiking and camping are her game! Jessy is blessed to call colorful Colorado and her beautiful Rocky Mountains home. Jessy lives just 45 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park and spends as much of her free time in the park as she can. Frequently visiting the park for Sunday morning sunrise sessions that are truly breathtaking! Jessy is also a volunteer for the US Forest Service and conducts patrols of some of her favorite trails in the Indian and James Peak Wilderness areas.

Jessy believes deeply in and advocates for all the health, mental and physical, benefits that spending time in nature provides. There is more and more scientific, evidence-based, research supporting this. Jessy tries to share that with as many people as she can.

Through her honest and authentic writing on her Colorado Mountain Momma blog, accompanied by her nature photography, Dragonfly Colorado, Jessy aims to share how nature has been one of the, if not the most, powerful healing tools for her in overcoming her mental health struggles. By opening a very candid and personal door into her own journey and life experiences Jessy hopes to show others that they too can benefit from all nature has to offer. Jessy aims to guide others how to find a healthy balance between catering to life’s responsibilities and caring for one's self and one’s deep passions.

“Her religion is the Earth. The mountains, the air, the water, the fire and the soil are her sanctuary. They live in her as she lives in them.” -Colorado Mountain Momma, Jessy Shouse-

54 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Keep Hiking in the Winter

  • February 5, 2019 at 7:50 pm
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    There is really nothing prettier than hiking in the snow! I haven’t been in a while because it’s hard to get babies and toddlers to hike in the snow with me, but I’m hoping next winter, when the kids are a bit older, we can start doing hikes all year round!

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  • February 5, 2019 at 6:39 am
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    As much as hiking (or even just traveling) in winters does sound fun and I have travelled quite a bit 2 winters back, this year and last have been difficult with my toddler (who was a newborn last winter). Planning anything in unpredictable weather with a toddler is next to impossible for me! I’m gonna consider this again in another 2 years! Haha….
    But yeah, even regular touristy places are almost deserted in winters and they look amazing covered in a layer of snow!

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  • February 4, 2019 at 7:04 am
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    Hiking in the winter is one of my most favorite activities. There are fewer people around, I love the cold (it’s refreshing) and if there’s a lot of snow, that makes everything look even better. Absolutely agree: there’s no such thing as bad weather- only bad preparation.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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      Thanks for reading Daniel! Be bold, start cold, is another favorite saying of mine!

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  • February 4, 2019 at 1:32 am
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    The photos looked amazing. I haven’t personally tried hiking during winter yet though. I find it difficult to leave my bed when it’s cold.hehehe

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:27 pm
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      Thank You Mich! I used to be the same and did not want to leave my warm bed. I encourage you to give winter hiking a try, even if you start with a shorter hike/walk.

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  • February 3, 2019 at 10:41 pm
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    I love travelling in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, only because we don’t get those sort of winters in Australia. But hiking in winter, wow! You sure are brave and adventurous. Love that pic of the hammock against the snow. Looks divine although getting there must have been a trek and a half! I totally agree about just being prepared for the cold. Most people hate it because they are actually cold with their right clothing or equipment to hike in the snow.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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      Thank You for reading Amy! I crave the adventure! My hammock comes with me everywhere and getting to this spot actually only required a short, easy hike. It was near a popular sledding hill in Rocky Mountain National Park. We set it up to enjoy snacks and some hot coco after a fun filled morning of sledding.

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  • February 3, 2019 at 9:05 pm
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    I love that you posted this because my friend and I are hiking in the snow later this month and we are so excited!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:32 pm
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      Hi Tiffanie! Thanks so much for reading! I hope you and your friend have an amazing time on your snow hike!! Let me know if you have any questions! Happy to help 🙂

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  • February 3, 2019 at 8:08 pm
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    I love the cold weather pity we dont get snow in South Africa.

    Nice one though?❤

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:33 pm
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      Thank You for reading Simone!

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  • February 3, 2019 at 5:20 pm
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    I feel like winter hikes would be so beautiful! These photos are so gorgeous!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:35 pm
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      Thank you for your kind words Neely! You are absolutely correct, winter hikes are very beautiful! Snow adds an amazing layer of beauty 🙂

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  • February 3, 2019 at 3:17 pm
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    You are so positive about everything. You are sharing reasons to hike in the winter is giving me chills. Can I do it? Will I be able to make it? You are inspiring. I love challenging myself and I am sure hiking in winter will be challenging as well as adventurous. I am surely going to try for it.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:39 pm
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      Thank You for your kind words! You warmed up my heart! Yes, you can do it Shreya!! Start slow and work your way up to longer, harder hikes. I recommend starting out on a shorter trail you have done before and are familiar with. Once you have some experience and feel more confident, you can take on longer, more challenging adventures!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:40 pm
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      Thanks for reading Julie!!

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  • February 3, 2019 at 11:19 am
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    The solitude and views are my favourite part. I love when it’s freshly snowed and getting out on a trail and it’s quiet and peaceful

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:41 pm
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      One of my most favorite things is to be the first on a trail after a fresh snowfall! Thanks for reading Carla!

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  • February 3, 2019 at 10:24 am
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    Solitude for sure! && the warm food tasting better — I bet! I’ll have schedule a winter hike with my husband!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm
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      Thanks for reading Vanessa. What a fantastic date idea, a winter hike and some warm comfort food! Enjoy!

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  • February 3, 2019 at 1:09 am
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    Winter hiking is something that I want to try, but I live in Texas. So, there’s no way I’ll be able to do it unless we get snow. I read about it burns more calorie and more challenging, and for sure you will see less or no people at all on the trail. Hope to do it one day.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:45 pm
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      Thanks for reading umiko! If you ever make it to Colorado, reach out and I’d be happy to guide you on a winter hike.

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  • February 2, 2019 at 10:57 pm
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    It’s so good to get out even in the winter and get some sunshine and exercise. I have to say that I am not the best at this – I’ll have to make an effort to get some winter hiking in!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:47 pm
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      Thanks for reading Marysa! It’s worth it!!

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  • February 2, 2019 at 8:41 pm
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    I love this! I never let the weather dictate what I do or don’t do. I would totally go hiking in the winter.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm
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      Me either, Autumn! Only thing that stops me is some of the dangerous winds we get in our mountains in the winter, other than that, you can find me outside!

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  • February 2, 2019 at 7:40 pm
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    I always think to go skiing in the winter instead of hiking, but you’re putting some new ideas into my head! I definitely like how hiking is less crowded in the winter, and the fact that you can burn more calories hiking in the winter is very appealing as well! Great post and keep hiking, regardless of the season!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:51 pm
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      Thanks for reading, Diana! I don’t ski or board so I had to find other ways to adventure in winter, hiking and snowshoeing are it!

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  • February 2, 2019 at 4:44 pm
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    Hiking in winter time is definitely an adventure. It’s definitely more challenging (both physically and mentally) than hiking in summer, but I love it. We usually hike the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Winter and I agree that it makes you feel great.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm
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      Thanks for reading Anda! Ohhh, I’d love to hike in the Sierra Nevada’s one day!!

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  • February 2, 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    I haven’t been hiking in winter, but we used to go cross country skiing. I loved skiing through wooded forests…so peaceful!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:54 pm
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      Thanks for reading Lori! I have yet to cross country ski, but it is on my list to try out. A snow covered, wooded forest is one of my favorite things!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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      Absolutely, Rachelle!! Thanks for reading!

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  • February 2, 2019 at 4:28 am
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    I love to get outdoors, even in the winter. It’s a bit too cold where I live to be outdoors safely right now, but when we break out of these negative temperatures I’ll be back out in that fresh air for sure.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:58 pm
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      Thanks for reading Misty! Hopeful that the polar vortex has moved on and you are able to get out and adventure!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 11:21 pm
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    Excellent points! I only discovered my passion for hiking last fall and never thought to keep my adventures going through the winter. The snowy scenery alone is worth the trek.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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      Thank you Marcie! It took me a couple years to discover my love of hiking in the winter season. And now, to be honest, I think I enjoy it more than spring/summer hiking!! I agree, the snowy scenery makes all the extra prep worth it!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 9:03 pm
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    I did not know that winter hikes burn more calories, that will make me think twice about saying no to hiking in winter. Hot chocolate is always appealing after being out in the cold. Your photos are beautiful. I do enjoy wintery landscapes. Maybe it is time for me to try it out.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:03 pm
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      Thanks for reading Jane! I encourage you to try it out. Start slow on a trail you are familiar with and you can build up from there! Please reach out with any questions, happy to help!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 9:02 pm
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    I love hiking but not so much in the winter. We’ll be hiking again when things thaw out!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 7:48 pm
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    You have ALMOST sold me! I admit, hiking in winter per se, I’m not gonna seek out. But I do like to go XC skiing in winter (because, how can you in summer? 🙂 ) and I also keep walking for errands in the winter whenever I can…

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:07 pm
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      Thanks for reading Flossie! I never thought I’d seek out winter adventures, but after reluctantly giving it a try, a couple times, my mind was changed.

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  • February 1, 2019 at 7:19 pm
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    Solitude– something I’ve grown to love as I get older. It took years to appreciate being alone or disconnected but now it’s essential.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:08 pm
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      Thanks for reading Elease! And I could not agree more, I cherish my solitude!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 6:28 pm
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    I LOVE winter hiking! I actually did one of my first winter hikes in Banff in the Canadian Rockies. It looked like you might have been there in one of the pictures but I am not sure! I thought this was really funny “I am an introvert. I like my space and need time alone to myself. I go to the mountains to get away from people”. I am literally the same way!

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:11 pm
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      Thanks for reading Courtney! I have not been to Banff, yet, it is high up on my bucket list though!!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 1:58 pm
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    Wow!!! This is great. I struggle to jog in the cold ??

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    • February 4, 2019 at 5:13 pm
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      Thanks so much Mamie!! I sometimes have a hard time getting going, but once I step foot into snow covered forests and onto snow packed trails, I fall in love all over, time and time again 😉

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  • February 1, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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    You’re welcome. And I agree. I’m a firm believer in there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation. Be bold, start cold and get out there!!

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  • February 1, 2019 at 3:34 am
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    Winter adventure is so underrated! Thanks for the good PR for exploring even in the cold weather ?

    Reply

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