5 Steps For Getting Into Winter Adventures
By Braider Wendy Lee
I’m an avid skier but I’ve come to realize that there is a myriad of options to play in the snow without dropping a lot of money on gear and putting yourself through the pain of learning how to resort ski. Utah’s amazing landscape offers boundless other recreation and it doesn’t have to be painfully expensive or physically painful.
We have so many winter activities to choose from. If you don’t know where to start, I’ve put together a few tips to help you get into the outdoor winter adventure spirit. I hope that my tips below will help you find an activity that fits you, your family, and your lifestyle.
- Start simple. Do you have a favorite local summertime hike? Chances are you can do that hike in the winter with snowshoes or sometimes even just some YakTrax. Local outdoor sporting stores like REI have affordable snowshoe rentals if you decide to go with that. Carve out a couple of hours and try a familiar trail for starters. From there you’ll be able to determine if you want some more of it.
- Try cross country skiing. Cross country skiing is more challenging than snowshoeing, but many of our favorite canyons and resorts offer cross country skiing routes. Unlike downhill skiing, cross country skiing doesn’t have a steep learning curve. There are two predominant types of cross country skiing: touring and metal-edge touring. Touring skis are recommended for those who have never strapped on a pair of skis. You stay within a set track and glide along the snow. I describe it as Nordic Track in the woods. Metal-edge touring skis requires a bit more skill and effort but is better suited for off-track routes. Soldier Hollow in Heber, Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake, and SnowBasin in Ogden all have excellent cross country trails to try out.
- Dress smart. A lot of people are overwhelmed with the cost and endless variety of winter sport clothing and gear. Good winter jackets are upwards of $150 and technical jackets can cost up to $500. Those price points are daunting for someone just dipping their toes in the snow. I suggest starting small. Avoid cotton and make sure you have a water-resistant layer on the top. A lot of our summer hiking gear can be worn underneath harder outer shells. As you figure out how you like to play in the snow you can narrow down some more technical clothing. If you are just hiking around, fleece gloves are fine along with some sweat-wicking bottom layers. If you want to get into downhill skiing, getting waterproof insulated gloves are a must.
- Go sledding. Chances are if you live in Utah and have children or friends who embrace their inner child, you have gone sledding. This sport doesn’t need much of an explanation but I do want to mention a word about safety. Head injuries are no joke and sledding is deceptively dangerous at times. Open hills without trees or obstacles are the best option but going down your favorite trail on a sled is really thrilling too. Wear a helmet. Really.
- Last of all it is important to remember that avalanche danger is very real, even for areas that aren’t considered “backcountry” and especially when you are on a snowmobile. Snowmobilers often feel invincible given the power of technology and the ease of revving up and riding out. Educate yourself and follow route guidance when you have the opportunity to hop onto one of these fun machines.
There are plenty of ways to start your winter recreation adventure. Check out www.utahcampfireadventures.com for more tips and follow us on Instagram. We offer outings that cater to families, beginners, and intermediate outdoor recreationalists. We’re a female run startup and we’re trying to bring more awareness and accessibility into the outdoors. Thanks for reading and have fun out there!