Hi everyone! It’s been another downright cold week here in Anchorage. As I mentioned last week, Alaska is slowly but surely getting our sunlight back and it’s been such a huge mental boost for everyone here. We all want to go outside again now that it’s still light out after work, but there’s one thing that makes it tricky: the cold weather. Anchorage isn’t that cold compared to the rest of Alaska, but this weekend the “real feel” temps were in the negative teens. I wanted to hibernate on my sofa with a good book, but Ridley was literally staring out the window and sighing so I knew I had to brave the cold weather and take him for a walk. It was zero degrees and sunny, so we put on multiple layers of clothes and headed over to the University Lake Trail and the dog park, which is about 5 minutes from our house.
That place was packed! Dogs ran around in the piles of snow like they were having the time of their lives, and runners ran by without coats on. Everyone looked happy to be out there, and I had to agree. There’s nothing like hiking through a snowy forest while the sun sets, and by the time we got back to the car we were all much happier. It got me thinking about how different Alaska is from Philly in the winter. People here actually love the cold and the snow, and we don’t let anything stop us from going on with our normal lives – even when it’s so cold that your eyelashes freeze. How do I, and most of the rest of Alaska, actually enjoy winter?
The first step is simple: decide to fall in love. Stop repeating the same old phrases like “Why do I live in a place where it’s cold?” and “I can’t wait for summer!” and just simply let yourself enjoy winter. Sure, it’s not fun sometimes. But at least you don’t have to deal with bugs or humidity. See? There’s so much to love already!
Next, plan a fun outdoor winter activity. I’ve always loved running and hiking in the winter, but this year I’ve added skiing and fat tire biking to my list of favorite winter activities. When you have something fun planned you’ll start looking forward to it, and it will give you a reason to go outside other than just running to your car or to the mailbox.
Here’s the most important step: dress for the weather. There are a million different websites and blog posts about how to dress for different temperatures, but I’ve learned in Alaska that those suggestions are really subjective and I usually adjust to the temperature in a few minutes. When it got up into the 30s in Anchorage last month I was wearing a hoodie outside, but back when I lived in Philly the 30s called for a coat, hat, and gloves. So don’t be afraid to try a few different combinations of gear to see what works for you. In Anchorage, I almost always have on a hat and a Buff to cover my neck/face, as well as waterproof gloves. I have like 4 pairs of waterproof winter boots to choose from (made by Sorel, Icebug, and North Face) and wear thick wool socks. I also usually wear two pairs of fleece tights and it really keeps out the wind. And to top it all off, I have a waterproof Columbia ski coat that I wear whenever I’m hiking/skiing/fat biking so that I don’t destroy my everyday coat. What’s most important is that you’re comfortable AND prepared for a change in the weather, so wear as much moisture wicking and waterproof gear as you can. In the Lower 48 I recommend buying cheap clothing and gear at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Burlington.
Once you’re dressed right and have a plan, get out there and enjoy yourself! Act like a little kid in the snow, and before you know it you’ll forget that you’re supposed to hate winter. And don’t forget the best part about winter: drinking lots of hot cocoa to warm up once you get back home! You’ll probably start planning your next winter adventure before you know it.
Are you a fan of winter or are you already looking forward to the summer? What’s the craziest winter adventure you’ve ever had?