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The Mountains Are Calling...But They’re Covered in Snow!

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Thoughts on Adventure and Adaptation from the Alpengirl Office

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 09:00

Alpengirls play in the snow summer campIt’s been a snowy last week of January here in Montana, and with temps in the single digits this morning and much of the country under a polar vortex, it seems that winter is here to stay for a while.  Once again, I’m dreaming of verdant alpine meadows, of cooling my dusty toes in mountain streams, of heading out with my hammock for a pleasant day in the woods, or of gathering a few friends for a couple nights in the high country. Layering up against the cold, I imagine frolicking in shorts and a t-shirt; scraping the ice off my windshield and carefully navigating the frozen streets, I miss jumping on my bike and zipping along in a warm breeze; pulling on a second pair of wool socks it seems impossible that my sandals, buried deep under all the winter boots, will ever see the sunshine again.

Alpengirl summer camp healthy breakfastThis year, as a seasoned veteran of the lengthy Montana winter, I am much more prepared than I was when I arrived mid-blizzard last January. I keep a pair of inside shoes at the office so I don't have to wear my snow boots all day. I (usually) remember to run out and start my ice-bound car a few minutes before I need to leave in the morning so the interior temperature has a chance of getting above freezing before I arrive at my destination. I plan time to scrape ice and snow off all of my my windows. I know how to open my apartment door when it freezes shut. I have a flannel bag of rice to heat in the microwave and take to bed with me for my toes. I am now the proud owner of not one, not two, but THREE pairs of mittens of different weights and materials, having realized quickly that fingers united are much warmer than fingers divided. Finally, I don't expect temperatures to rise above freezing, ever, so that when the bank sign flashes 33, or even 40, I take it as an unexpected surprise and try not to mourn when the forecast tells me to expect a high of 20 for the next week.

Alpengirl horse packing summer campCozied up indoors or braving the elements with just my eyeballs peeping out between hat and buff, I set my sights on summertime weeks in the mountains. My journal expands with an ever-growing list of trails to be hiked, swimming spots to be splashed in, and general explorations and adventures to be undertaken. The snowy peaks on the horizon remind me of all the Alpengirl trips just around the corner.

This season of semi-hibernation fuels us outdoorsy folk. In the Alpengirl office, these months create space for the imagination, outreach, planning, and research necessary to turn daydreams into experiences, and to flesh out an exciting idea into a full-blown itinerary. We spend hours pouring over trail maps, reading reports, and ironing out driving routes; we locate trailheads and guides, research and purchase tents and cooking gear; we try to imagine exactly how hungry we will be after, say, 5 miles of backpacking uphill, and what we might want to cook and eat after such a day. These are the elements of a well-planned expedition, and without this time, with hot tea at our elbows and temps dipping outside, our hours and days and weeks outside in the coming season could not be successful, enjoyable, and safe.

Alpengirl backpacking summer trip in snowWinter may be a time of planning and preparation, especially here in the Alpengirl office, but it is also a season for adventure. A snowy hike here, a day of cross-country skiing there, riding the chairlifts with friends, ice skating in the park or rink... As we prepare logistically for all the activities of the upcoming season, physical preparation is important too, even if it can’t take the exact form that it does during the warmer months. So listen when those snowy mountains call: bundle up in a few layers, stick some hand warmers in your mittens, and let the thought of all those hot days of hiking ahead warm you as you venture out. We’ll see you out there!

By: Laura S. (aka “Cindy Lou Who”)