Winter in many places means rain, sleet and alighting snowflakes – sometimes all on the same day. But as the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather. No matter what the weather does, winter offers many different types of adventures.
We have brought together five winter holiday tips for great and not-so-great weather. And to cover all eventualities...we also have a couple of snow activities.
Hiking in a nature reserve or national park
The enduring image of hiking is that it is a spring-summer-autumn activity; when the days become shorter many of us forget our favourite places. Don’t! The hiking routes are there to be visited, the colours won’t be as varied of course, but they are no less picturesque. Pack your backpack with a Thermos flask, something to sit on, something to eat and an extra layer of clothing and set out. You can find information about nature reserves and new hiking routes close to you at your nearest county administration.
Camp-fire, coffee and somersaults
Being outside during winter can certainly be chilly! Therefore do what people have done throughout the ages – light a fire! Since you can’t break off branches in the countryside, it is also a good idea to bring along some firewood, matches and a knife or axe to prepare the fire with (perhaps this already makes some people feel like they’re in the great outdoors?).
Bring family and friends and find a wind deflector or a nice location shielded from the wind. Make a camp-fire, serve up all the food and drink you packed in your backpack and socialise around the flames. When the heat and the energy start spreading, it’s the ideal time for games: hide-and-seek, somersaults and stone skipping are underrated joys, regardless of age.
Treasure hunt with GPS or mobile
Geocaching is a sort of treasure hunt with GPS where you look for “caches” using coordinates that are specified on the Internet. A fun way to visit unexpected places with an added problem-solving element. The degree of difficulty varies, from simply coordinates to caches which require you to solve mathematical problems or an encrypted code in order to be found. The website www.geocaching.com explains how to get started. There you will also find an app you can download to get your first challenge, which you can find using your mobile. Bring the family or challenge some friends to see who can get there first!
There are around two million geocaches around the world, probably one close to you as well! You only need to get out there and look.
Testing the tent in the cold
There is no rule that says you have to sleep in the tent just because you put it up. If you just want a place to enjoy coffee somewhere protected from the wind, a fun place for children, or an exercise in practical management, it’s great to get the tent out, even in the middle of winter. Not least because the wind is strong and the ground is frozen – your time with the tent may give you experiences which you can benefit from on longer trips. Be prepared for inquisitive questions and long stares from neighbours and passers-by... And of course: a bit of fun under the tent canvas.
Research your next adventure
There are days when the weather makes it more long-winded to go out (even though we certainly agree with the saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather). Since the Christmas holidays include the word “holidays”, it can be a good idea to have spare activities at hand for really awful weather. The library is a great destination during days like this and why not make it your goal to research your next adventure? Find the Outdoor life shelf and browse the publication shelf for outdoor magazines, you are almost guaranteed to find new suggestions for weekends and holidays. Then it’s just a case of dreaming and planning.
Activities for snow
Dig a bivouac shelter
When there’s snow on the ground the possibilities for games and activities are almost endless. One outdoor activity, which you may benefit from on your next winter hike, is to try digging a bivouac shelter. It can be quite tricky and requires different techniques depending on how much snow there is (read more about this in our tips for Winter trekking here) – but it is also an exercise that challenges creativity and offers some strength training. To children the bivouac shelter becomes a snow cabin, in the company of good friends it becomes a pleasant place to have a coffee.
What is hidden in the snow...is found with an avalanche transceiver
If you’re one of those people who likes going on alpine summit treks, you may also have an avalanche finder or “transceiver” to use the correct outdoors term. Find it and gather some friends with their own devices for fun-filled search competitions out in the snow (you can of course do it without snow but you will need more camouflage).
The set-up is simple: one person in the group starts by burying their transceiver (placed in a bag or backpack) while the others look the other way. Then the other participants locate the transceiver with their own devices as fast as possible. The first to find it wins the game and has the honour of hiding their transceiver the next time.
The activity can be varied by hiding treasure along with the transceiver and can be made more difficult by hiding several devices at the same time. (The important thing is to turn the transceiver on before burying it, otherwise the activity can be really tricky!)
Have a peaceful and outdoorsy Winter!