Snow What! No Need to Hibernate

As winter solstice slides us into the deep winter months, gray skies and colds temps don’t need to drop us into hibernation. Some of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures can be found when snow is knee deep and temperatures nip the single digits. So, grab your poles and head for the hills.
Snow pack roads are still drivable. Just take it slower.

When planning for an off-road winter trek, prepare for an early start since days are short and hiking or skiing in snow can be long.
Getting away from the Bakken oil trucks is a great reason to retreat to the backcountry.

Always check weather and road conditions for your entire route. In north country, it can be sunny and calm in one area and whiteout blizzard conditions a mere thirty miles away.
The surprise of deer, antelope or buffalo is always exciting.

Snowshoeing the rolling hills of western North Dakota can feel like most mountainous areas and is the best way to discover the surprises of winter environments.
Early morning snow hikes offer beautiful diamonds.

But, cold temperatures and snow present very vigorous challenges. If a three-mile hike is a cinch in the summer, be sure to double or triple the time for a winter hike. Loose snow and ice can slow down even the most ardent hiker.

Hiking or backcountry skiing in extreme weather demands proper equipment. Invest in good equipment and dress like an onion with plenty of layers.

Though it feels frigid at the trailhead, your body starts to generate heat after just 10 to 15 minutes of walking, especially if you've chosen a strenuous trail. Dressing in layers will allow you to balance your internal temperatures by adding or removing hat, gloves or jacket. When you get indoors, your body will be ready to handle the warm air.
A breathable ski mask is preferred. Try to find a wicking material that won't crystalize in cold temperatures.

While no trek is the same, neither is a trekker's favorite gear. But, there are basic items that every winter hiker should have before hitting the trail. Winter hikers invest in high-quality foundation items.
A good pair of water proof snowshoes is a must.

Start with a good pair of snow boots that are fitted to snowshoes that support your weight. Add another layer of protection with knee-high gaiters.

Next, keep your body warm with wicking underwear, another layer of breathable clothing and top with waterproof trousers, Finally, an insulated jacket system with an inner and outer jacket, hiking poles, warm hat, liner gloves with outer-gloves or mittens, and goggles or polarized sunglasses.
Skis, backpack, hats.
Any off-trail hikes, snowshoed or not, are likely to be rigorous, especially in deep, powdery snow, If the going gets tough, be prepared to turn around. Focus on the entire adventure, not just a destination or trails end.
Extraordinary landscapes of western North Dakota
On the trail, you want to hydrate with water or electrolytes. After the hike, a local micro brew or warm drink is a welcomed warmer-upper.

Everything tastes better after a hike.

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A vigorous hike deserves a delicious reward. Treat yourself to a great meal. Plan to visit your favorite spot to fill you up with comfort food. Whether it is a cozy bar with great burgers, or a lively pizza hangout, find a place where you don’t have to worry about your appearance or aroma.

After coming in from the cold, it is tempting to chow down on everything. But, keep your food and alcohol intake in moderation.

Hiking in the cold will dehydrate you and it is easy for your body to cramp up. A good serving of water will hydrate you and open your appetite for a meal well deserved.

Western North Dakota is geared for the outdoors, so it is easy to find a great pub that serves up delicious comfort food and award winning regional micro brewed beers.

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