Walking with a friend can be an effective way to connect without distraction.
“Solvitor Ambulando” translates as “It is solved by walking.”
West Michigan offers ample opportunities for sustainable solutions to cabin fever with beautiful winter walks. Enjoying a winter hike often boils down to proper preparation, and most people already own what is needed to have a safe and enjoyable walk in the woods.
Layering to accommodate the warmth you’ll generate while hiking is key to staying comfortable. A synthetic base layer helps sweat evaporate; a tech shirt, yoga pants, leggings, or running tights may already be in your wardrobe. Then, an insulating layer of fleece or wool — something thick enough to trap air — comes next, topped with a wind-breaking layer, completing the layering system. (Some of my favorite layering pieces have been purchased second-hand at a deep discount!)
Snow-covered paths and trees rest Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at Van Raalte Farm Park.
Avoid cotton, which soaks up sweat and dries slowly. While moving, pay attention to your temperature. Take off a layer before you get sweaty if you feel your temperature rising due to exertion.
Many hikers carry a puffy down jacket to keep from getting chilled while stopping to take a break, have a snack, or take pictures, then put it back in their pack when they begin hiking again. A lightweight, warm puffy is an investment that will serve you for years, and can be compressed to fit in your daypack.
Other items worth the investment are traction devices or microspikes to put over your boots in case of icy trails. These can be found at most reputable outdoor sporting goods stores.
A simple backpack is handy for collecting layers and holding basic safety equipment. It’s important to stay hydrated, even in cold weather, so bring a re-usable water bottle, or a thermos of hot cider, tea, or cocoa.
Carry a headlamp or flashlight in case you happen to be out later than expected. Keep your phone and anything else with a battery in an interior pocket near your body, as the cold saps battery life dramatically.
The varied landscape at Ottawa Sands park is a favorite location for waterfowl and a pair of nesting eagles.