“Bright and Cold February Trails”
“Winter hikes on cold days offer me time for quiet reflection, bright sunshine, and solitude” – Ed Lehming
More and more, I find myself our hiking on even the coldest days. As the COVID pandemic continues to affect our world I’m finding the natural places around me to have become ‘discovered’ by more and more people trying to get outside and active. This has meant that the once quiet places I have been going for years are often overrun, especially on weekends. Single track trails now look like highways and many of the larger groups that I pass can be heard long before I encounter them.
I will not begrudge others the gifts that our natural places offer. It’s truly a good thing that people are beginning to freshly appreciate the healing gifts that time spent in nature has to offer, but I do miss the solitude, those times where I simply want time alone, without the noise and distraction of others.
I have found a few ways of achieving that goal: I have begun to discover and explore lesser used trail systems, those where access is not conveniently provided. I’ve found myself going out much earlier, before the majority of urban adventurers arrive, and, I find myself on the trails on days those very cold days where I would normally have stayed at home.
With good preparation, even the coldest days can become enjoyable. I dress appropriately for the temperature, yet keep in mind that vigorous hiking will also keep me warm, and often perspiring, especially as the hike progresses.
It’s on these cold days, especially those where the sun is clear and bright, that I have experienced some beautiful scenery and sounds. The cold air creates some interesting effects. During deep drops in temperature, the snow becomes particularly crunchy and sound seems to travel further. Around me, the trees crackle as the cold penetrates the wood. Despite the cold, small birds; chickadees, juncos, bluejays, and finches, fill the air high above me with their song. There have been many times recently when I have just stood and listen to the sounds of the forest around me. It’s a pretty amazing experience.
Of course, I am never completely alone on the trails; there are others out and about, just like me, but on my typical 12-15 kilometer hikes, I meet other hikers only on occasion. Sometime we will stop and chat, but generally, it’s a cheerful “hello” and we pass by each other, simply enjoying what nature has to offer us.
iPhone 12 Pro @ 4.2 mm
1/2500 sec, f/1.6, ISO 32