As shocking as it may sound to some, for someone like me, the idea of winter, REAL WINTER, has been a complex, slightly overwhelming and to some extent scary unknown. There are lots of variables I had yet to explore and the fact that I have spent the better part of my adulthood living in coastal lined, tropical cities, my experience with real seasons and a true winter has been limited and near non-existent. I had never sunk my toes into feet of snow, stared down mammals in the wild that weighed in over a thousand pounds and I had never had to really think about not only how many layers could I put on and still move but then make a checklist for said layers to make sure that no soldiers were left behind. Once all the logistics were set and the unfamiliarities were addressed, I was able to look back over my week getaway to Jackson, Wyoming with bliss filled eyes. Here are 5 things that I was able to take away from my first full-on winter experience as an outdoor explorer all around the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
It just seems so obvious because it’s something people say all the time. But putting it to the test, I can say with conviction that it’s a fact. There’s really no difference between 38 degrees and 3 if you’re bundled up correctly. But if you’re not, the fridge cold will eat alive. I spent most of my days outside – walking around town and exploring the parks and reserves and although I was cold on my extremities, where my layers were multiplied, I was toasty warm. I didn’t make much lead way in discovering how to keep my toes and fingertips from going tingly and numb. But keeping my core warm made it all more than bearable and honestly, winter exploring enjoyable. Pro-tip for other first-timers: Source gear and goodies from your besties. This was my saving grace and allowed me to test run some essentials like a snow jacket and pants without racking up a hefty investment. Now I know what I REALLY need to do all the adventures I now know I like and can wait for end of season sales to stock up consciously and on a more affordable budget. The trick is to not lose anything and return it in the same condition you borrowed it so next time you come a knocking, your amigos are happy to help. This is something I also learned thanks to winter, unfortunately, I was not 100% sorry about your mittens, Noey.
And the key to perceiving it to your benefit is doing something you enjoy. Start with lesson #1 (LAYER UP) and dive into something that excites you. Point proved by stripping down to my sleeves in 30-degree weather and submerging into an outdoor hot spring – not once, but twice. I don’t know what it was about the idea of dipping into the hot springs that made my mind shift from it’s so freaking cold to this is the most exciting time of my life. Once my toes touched the water, after the needly tingles of the blood rewarming the areas subsided a few moments in, I basically forgot that it was cold. Shear excitement flooded my veins. And I discovered, getting out and re-layering up was easy – as long as it’s accomplished quickly.
From beach babe to snow bunny for a week, there was nothing more paralyzing than the versatility that I was able to see, touch and feel water transform through in a single place. From raindrops to snow. Snow piles to icy sidewalks, lakes, and tree branches. Hot springs to running waterfalls and rivers. There was so much beauty seen in every drop of water that my eyes were able to absorb. What I discovered that made winter one of the most beautiful seasons I finally was able to fully experience was how adaptable liquid truly is.
Living in a city and consuming freely and at your convenience, I’ve discovered through personal experience there’s often a disconnect between want and need. Living life with very little restrictions, it was clutch to see life thriving when there’s a perception of complete non-existence of resources. But this is the eco-system the wildlife of Wyoming is accustomed to. Genetically and through their packs, these animals have gained the ability to know how to migrate, where to go, what to eat and how to use the least amount of energy to maximize their survival throughout the harshest of winter days. They depend upon every bit of the community that surrounds them to do this. And there’s a mutual understanding, respect, and survival of the fittest that has been adjusted and perfected over time to ensure that each species roaming wild and freely has a chance to make it to the next season. This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
There are so many things you can do in, with, on and around snow! I’ve seen snow before, but never have had an endless abundance of it surrounding and covering everything my eyes laid eyes upon. Outdoor winter sports and adventuring was once only a fantasy connected to fears of the unknown. What I learned form getting out into the snow, like really getting out into it, was that it’s an amazing, wonderful thing. Yes, it’s wet and cold, but it’s also pillowy (sometimes not so much), beautiful, magical and a platform to endless amounts of fun. It also opens the opportunity to walk on water, hike down trails you’d never meet and slide down hills, fearlessly. Carpe diem.
Eunique Deeaann + Stranded on Land