Stomp, stomp, stomp. We had only been hiking a few minutes when the trees cleared and revealed our first trail junction. Andy pulled Luke out of the carrier on his back and set him in the snow. Luke didn’t need any direction at all; squealing with delight as he kicked up puffs of beautiful, glittery powder, he charged full speed down Raven Ridge. Andy chased after our son, playfully tossing handfuls of snow at Luke as they went. I followed slowly behind and snapped photos of my family and the incredible view that emerged with each step. The babe in my belly squirmed and kicked, as if he was trying to propel me forward to keep up with the others.
Luke, Andy, and I made it to the end of the out and back ridge and stopped to enjoy the sun on our faces and the incredible view of snowy Pikes Peak. With a sigh and a tone of surprised astonishment, I uttered words I hadn’t said in close to two decades: I love this snow!
The Key to Surviving Winter is Play
Confession: I have been a winter hater for most of my adult life. The snow, the ice, the cold – I loathed it all, until very recently.
It wasn’t until my first real winter hike over a year ago that I began to uncover why I wasn’t a winter fan for so many years. As I stood with my family at that overlook in full view of Pikes Peak, it hit me: I stopped enjoying winter and all it’s magic when I stopped playing in it.
For the past year, I have worked hard to find the winter activities that stir my soul and bring an uncontrollable smile to my face. Hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, and “winter tailgating” have allowed me to rediscover the winter magic. Equipped with layers to keep me toasty warm, gear to take me confidently into the mountains, and family and friends always up for an adventure, I have slowly but surely built a foundation of love that will last for the rest of my life.
And the best part? We are only getting started! I know there are many more experiences to be enjoyed as a family as we grow in experience and ability.
Want to Enjoy Winter? Head Outside and Play
Fast forward a year and some change. We trudged through the snow on another glorious bluebird day, four of us now, instead of three. Jack wiggled and squealed from the pack on my back as Luke scampered ahead of me on the trail, snowshoes kicking up giant clouds of snow behind him. We came to the very same overlook on Raven Ridge and stopped to take in the view of Pikes Peak.
As the sun continued to sink in the sky behind me, I thought about how much I’ve enjoyed these Colorado winters since I decided to play in them instead of waiting them out indoors. The thought of our winter hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park, our chilly cookouts on the tailgate of our truck, and now, in this very moment, our first snowshoe adventure as a family, all brought an uncontrollable smile to my face.
I said to myself, out loud, words I’d uttered countless times in the last year – but a bit less astonished this time: I love this snow!