On a road trip from Montreal to New York many years ago, I spent a few days in the Green Mountains. A vivid memory is looking out over seemingly never-ending forested hills from the plateau summit of Bromley Mountain in southern Vermont. The Appalachian Trail crosses over the summit but the only hikers encountered were out for the day like me. That brief excursion fuelled my interest in thru-hikers and the A.T. itself.
That’s how I came across this current initiative from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the oldest outdoor group in the USA. It’s a challenge to all to spend two hours of outdoor exercise every week (social distancing, of course). The mission of the AMC is to foster the protection, enjoyment and understanding of the outdoors. It envisions a world where natural resources are healthy, loved and always protected, and where the outdoors occupies a place of central importance in every person’s life.
Despite the fact winter may be fundamentally shifting, AMC’s Colby Meehan, Leadership Training Manager, shares top tips for thriving, surviving and basking in everything Mother Nature has to offer during winter 2021.
- Plan your adventure: Avoid an emergency call-out by mapping out your exact route, choosing an alternate route for mishaps and calculating how long your roundtrip excursion will be. Make a trip plan, bringing things like high-energy snacks and water for a more enjoyable day out.
- Find the forecast: Check the forecast before you go by listening/watching/reading your favourite weather predictions in advance. This will help you prepare for the appropriate conditions while you are out and about. Observe weather changes as they emerge and change your plan for the day as needed to avoid severe weather.
- Dress appropriately: Understanding how to layer for winter makes a world of difference. Avoiding fabrics like cotton and opting for ones like polyester or wool can turn a miserable, risky outing into a pleasant one. For good measure, take extra pairs of gloves, mittens and socks for especially cold temperatures.
- Build a safe and protected outdoor living space: To guarantee a fun and safe small gathering under COVID conditions, you can create the perfect outdoor living space on a variety of different budgets. Fire pits are affordable, secure heat sources, and waterproof seating offers comfort while keeping you dry. Prep meals in advance so you can focus on fun and enjoy your time outside. Maintain social distancing guidelines (at least 6 feet apart) from other campsites when making your own.Finally, remember the Leave No Trace principles when you leave, which ask you to carry out anything that does not belong in nature.
- Outdoor recreation and wellness: Winter brings a multitude of activities and sports. It can be as advanced as snowboarding and skiing but you can also have a blast without snow by jogging, picnicking or hiking. Studies show that spending at least 120 minutes outdoors every week boosts your well-being.
- Explore the city outdoors: City dwellers also have ways to revel outside during COVID. Whether you decide to walk around your neighbourhood for 20 minutes a day, take up birdwatching in a local park for an afternoon or even study the surrounding architecture, time spent outside is good for you.