On Saturday afternoon we drove up to Bald Lake near Willow, AK for a chilly backpacking trip to the Bald Lake Cabin. There was frost covering every tree in the forest as we backpacked out to the cabin. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I was so excited to be staying out there in the public use cabin. We made a fire, shivered until it became warm enough to take off our coats, and then played cards with our friends until it was time to get into our cozy sleeping bags and fall asleep.
But what ended up being more gorgeous was the view we got when we woke up the next morning. It had snowed overnight, and the forest was transformed into a winter wonderland! As soon as I saw the snow, I rushed out of bed and threw on some warmer layers so that I could go play outside!
Our friends weren’t up yet and Andrew was re-starting the fire, so Ridley and I walked the long way down to Bald Lake while the snow fell all around us. It was gorgeous, silent, and so relaxing to be out there alone in the woods on a trail covered with untouched snow. There’s something about standing outside while it’s snowing that makes me feel so incredibly happy and peaceful. When we got back to the cabin we drank some hot chocolate on the front porch and watched the snow fall.
Winters can be long, dark, and hard in Alaska. There’s this anxious feeling in the air as fall slowly fades into winter and you realize that the next time the sun will be high and close enough to warm you up will be 6 or 7 months away. But winters aren’t all bad! This will be my fourth winter here, and I have to say that each winter has been better than the last one. Last year was our first snowy winter in Alaska (the other two were just icy) and I loved learning how to cross country ski, fat bike, and hike in the snow. I may have been totally freaking out about the end of fall a few weeks ago, but now that we’ve finally got snow I honestly have to say I’m pretty excited about it. It makes hiking harder but definitely more gorgeous, and at least we don’t have to worry about bears for a while!
I’ve got a few goals this winter that will make it even better than last year:
- Take cross country skiing lessons. I know enough to be able to move forward, but hills are a mystery to me and I have no idea how to stop without crashing. I’d love to finally know what I’m doing!
- Get better at fat biking. I would love to make it all the way out to Knik Glacier this year instead of having to turn around at the halfway point like I did last year!
- Hike hilly/steep trails instead of just the flat ones. I plan on taking an avalanche awareness class at the end of this month, and also plan to go hiking with more experienced winter hikers a few times so that I can learn how to be better at climbing higher in the winter.
- Get into rock climbing. The hardest part of winter is the fact that it’s dark way before I get home from work, and I need a fun workout to do after work if I want to keep myself from hibernating and never leaving the house.
- Take a few more backpacking trips. We have some cabins and yurts booked in the coming months and I can’t wait to hike out to them with some friends. It’s important for me to plan mini vacations to get out of the house so I don’t feel so trapped when it gets really cold.
Now that winter is here, I’m looking forward to embracing it and spending as much time as possible outside in the snow!
What is your favorite winter activity? Would you rather spend a winter weekend doing things outside in the snow or inside where it’s warm?