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The ABCs of winter hiking

28 March, 2016

Classed under: Family life

It's true that the January deep freeze might make you want to hibernate until spring… but that would mean missing out on all the invigorating pleasures of winter. It's a season that will enchant the walkers among us, even those that are knee-high to a grasshopper. With the evergreens blanketed with white, fresh animal tracks in the snow and the joy of seeing a furry little critter scamper across our path, winter hiking has a 1001 things to love about it. So when are we going? 


What to bring

  • Bring a cold lunch or a snack with you. And don't forget that water bottle, just like in summer.
  • If you're going by car, plan on having a change of clothes and some big towels to dry off or simply to protect the car seats on the trip home.
  • You'll kick yourself if you forget your camera or smart phone for taking pictures of the kids and scenery.
  • A small first-aid kit in your pack or in the car isn't a bad idea. It's a good idea to have one always, for that matter.
  • On sunny days sunscreen is as important as it is in summer. Also lip balm, and if it's really cold, Vaseline for noses and cheeks.
  • Runny noses are par for the course in winter so don't forget the tissues.

What to do
It's not complicated ! Walk slowly and take the time to savour the beauty all around you. Watch birds feed, and take in the contrasts between the bare hardwoods and the lush evergreens. Speculate on what kind of animal made those track in the snow. And, at the very end of your trip, don't forget to make some snow angels! (So you don't get soaked and miserable at the start.)

The ABCs of winter hiking
  • Pace yourselves and don't bite off more than you can chew, especially the kids.The goal is to have fun, not break speed records. If the going gets tough, you can always head back. 
  • 1- to 2-year-olds can tag along –  preferably in a tummy baby carrier so they benefit from your body heat – if the temperature is around  0°C (32°F). Best to keep trip length down to 20 or 30 minutes.
  • 3- to 5-year-olds will without any doubt be the ones setting the pace. Apply petroleum-jelly-free cream to their lips, noses and cheeks (this applies to tykes of all ages). Multiple layers of clothing will keep them warmer than a one-piece snowsuit.  
  • When 5-year-olds and older kids have  a goal, it keeps them motivated.  Give yourselves a mission: get to a certain chalet in the park, a warming hut or a favourite spot with a view, etc. After an hour or so, all hikers need to take a break (this applies to all outdoor games) to warm up and have something to eat and drink.
  • Plan on serving a nice, hot bowl of soup once home, like our ham, pear and zucchini chowder.