It's that time of year again - time to start thinking about skiing! So far it looks like we are getting the La Nina weather patterns that some had predicted, because we have had one wet storm after another so far this fall. There is already snow starting to pile up in the mountains, and chances are there will be much more to come.
Skiing is a great outdoor winter activity, but it does not come cheap. Every fall we share some of the best ways we have found to save money, and the first one on the list is the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap.
This is a chance to pick up used gear at bargain prices, and it is the largest event of its kind in the entire region. It is coming up in just 10 days over October 29-30th at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. So, if you are looking to find good deals on some equipment for your family, check out their website for more information: http://skipatrolskiswap.com/
By Abby McAllister
I was just re-reading my husband’s post on how to enjoy the outdoors in winter time. I love that guy. He is so good at distilling things down to their most basic. Anytime I want to share something with him I end up beating around in the bush, circling around the issue and generally babbling on until he sums up my point in just a few words. I can really appreciate that. However, sometimes there is some value in getting “there” by going the long way around. So, after reading his post I felt there were a few things he might have overlooked that might be important to a woman. And guys, if it is important to your girl it is important to you. I thought I might take a stab at a re-write of Harley’s post from a woman’s perspective, agreeing with all he said but adding a few important thoughts for us women (oh you know that means so many more words but you get a little attitude with it so it’s all good!).
Here’s the truth: I just don’t like to be cold. That’s the real deal. I really don’t like to be cold. I will go to great lengths to avoid being any bit of cold. Of course, with my husband and 4 active boys, not going outside for 4 months is really not an option so here are the things that have changed my life from a “run-and-hide-before-he-makes-me-go-out-in-that-frozen-wasteland” kind of girl to an “ok-i-can-do-this-and-I-might-even-enjoy-a-tiny-bit-of-it” girl that follow off Harley’s last post.
1. Stay hydrated. This is very important for all the reasons Harley mentioned. However, you men give very little thought to the consequences of hydration for a girl…especially when out enjoying snow sports. It takes very little for a man to “resolve” the consequences of his consumption of water while for us ladies it means exposing some very sensitive areas not accustomed to exposure to the cold. Unfortunately the importance of hydration cannot be ignored so take a few extra measures to make sure you can still enjoy your time outdoors. If you are a coffee drinker you may want to either tone it down on the morning of an outing or push it earlier so that the effects of caffeine can wear off before you hit the woods. Also, bring a little roll of toilet paper in a zip closure baggie in your pocket or day pack. Keep drinking water as you exercise but do it in small sips. Listen, none of this is backed up by scientific evidence…just personal experience. Men, you get to make sure your girl has a safe place to …well, do what she has to do… You want that girl to keep spending time outside with you? Make it as enjoyable as you can for her!
2. Dress in layers (not cotton)-or I would say “get the right gear!” For most of my life I have gotten by with too big winter wear discarded by my brothers or husband. As cheap as I am I have never been one to spend money on new, cutting edge, fancy pants gear. However, I managed to fall in love with and marry a gear head. Luckily for me he is also a “thrifty Scotsman” so we aren’t breaking the bank. Also luckily for me, early on in our marriage he decided I needed some proper gear. He did a lot of research and spent some money to get me great gear.
How do we define “great gear?” First, it needs to be made from the appropriate materials. People, please don’t wear cotton when it is cold and wet out! I know your sweat pants are comfy around the house but they are not for wearing in the cold. Also, your cute new jeans are out too! Not a good choice. When shopping for outdoor winter wear look for wool or wool blends. If you haven’t checked out modern wool products you really need to. Gone are the days of scratchy, bunchy, thick wool pants and gloves. The new wool clothing is really amazing. Check out brands like Ibex, Stoic and Smartwool. Here’s another little confession of mine: I wear my
for about 8 months of the year. They are soft and thin and go under my jeans, leggings, workout clothes-everything! Yup, I wear them full time for 8 months a year. You might want two pairs so you can wash them…I also adore my Stoic boy short undies. I hike in them all year around since they are warm in the cold and still comfy when it’s warm out. Check them out .
The second qualifier for “right gear” is it needs to fit. If gear is too big it won’t trap warm air around your body and you will be always working to warm up the incoming arctic air. If it is too tight you won’t be comfortable but more importantly it can cut off circulation which is one way your body works to warm itself. Also, if gear is too big it gets bunchy and itchy and uncomfortable. Once your brain is distracted from the activity you are doing and onto how your body is uncomfortable, you are more likely to notice the cold and have it become a concern. This goes for boots, mittens, coats and all the base layers of clothing. Making the move from too big hand-me-down clothes to ones that fit has made a huge difference in my willingness to brave the outdoors in winter.
The third qualifier for “great gear” is that you feel like you look good. I know that seems vain and silly but the fact is that the chances of me heading out into the woods feeling like a dumpy dwarf are much lower than if I feel like an ice princess. Even if we probably won’t see people we know, or any people for that matter, I just don’t want to go out feeling like a troll. Girls, we want to look good! Men, we will join you anywhere if we feel like we are killin’ it so get us the good stuff already!
3. Food For Fuel. I like to call this one “permission to Snack a lot!” That’s right, you need to eat! We all know that when we exercise our body is burning calories but we seldom think about the calories burned just trying to warm ourselves in the winter months. Time spent exploring a winter wonderland is no time to be dieting! Your body needs the calories to keep you warm so go ahead and choose some yummy, high calorie treats and allow yourself to indulge. You may not experience feelings of being hungry while out exploring but if you start to feel clumsy, dull, tired or cold you probably need to recharge your internal furnace with some calorie fuel. Keep an eye on your kids too. If they are whining or dragging or falling behind it is probably time for a refueling stop. Make sure to bring snacks they (and you!) are excited about. If you pull out the health-food organic seaweed and chia seed bar you may have a hard time getting them to fuel up.
4. Wear a hat. This one can be tricky since most hats I choose to wear are either all style, no function or plenty of function but if I take them off I look like Medusa. Try to choose a hair style and a hat that will work well together. Remember, we need to look good out there! Also, please note all the other Medusa-headed ladies at the lodge or pizza place who just came in out of the snow and try to feel ok about the look for a bit.
5. Think safety. Ok, mostly I leave this one to my guy. However, should the worst happen and he isn’t able to guide us out of some spot I like to know that he has put a “way-point” on his GPS device that will take me back out of wherever he drags me to. If you are an overbearing control freak you might want your own GPS device but probably one is enough (I do carry a few extra batteries just in case!).
If you follow the first 4 points and have a GPS with you I think you will feel pretty good about getting out and enjoying the winter landscape-at least more than you might have before! Best of luck to you ladies and please, share tips that help you enjoy the outdoors in the cold.
by Harley McAllister
'3. Food for fuel. You will be burning calories if you are active and outside in the winter. Whether its cross country skiing, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, or even sledding, these endeavors burn calories. Heck, your body has to burn more calories just to stay warm in cold weather, and I've heard of some crazy folks who lost weight just by standing outside in their swimsuits during the winter (not recommended). But seriously, if you are outside and a ways from your car or someplace warm, and you are starting to 'hit the wall' energy wise, and the temperature is dropping, and you're starting to feel cold - well, you could be headed for hypothermia. Bring along some energy dense snacks like nuts, granola, energy bars, or even a candy bar (the sugar rush won't last as long but anything helps) to help keep that furnace burning.
4. Wear a hat. You lose a lot of heat from your head, so put a lid on it and you will feel warmer all over. Another old adage says "if your fingers are cold, put a hat on." Think about it. Also, wear a windproof shell. Even a small amount of wind will cut through most clothes when it is cold so having a wind blocking outer layer is important. Waterproof is best, but you can do OK with anything that keeps out the breeze because at really low temperatures things won't be wet anyway - they will be frozen. However, beware of sitting on snow, because the pressure from sitting on it can cause it to melt and get you wet anyway. It's true, it's science.
5. Think safety. When the weather is cold there is less margin for error, so be honest about your limits. First time snowshoeing? Don't choose a trail that is 5 miles long with huge elevation gains. Be aware of snow conditions and steep slopes, because you don't want to be anywhere near an avalanche. Most of all be extremely cautious around ice as it is notoriously difficult to judge. There can be air bubbles trapped in the ice, there can be moving water underneath it, there can be 'rotten' ice that has gone through multiple freeze/thaw cycles, all of which cause the ice to become weaker. And you can have weak ice in close proximity to strong ice with little warning that things are changing, so be ever vigilant when near ice and just don't risk it.
Now that I've said all the scary things, don't let it keep you from getting out! Just do it in a smart, prepared way. Start easy and test things out as you go, because the winter season is full of hidden delights for those who are prepared enough to venture out in it.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap, and it is coming up in about 10 days over Halloween weekend (Oct 30 - Nov 1st) . This ski swap has been going on for over 50 years, and it is the largest event of its kind in the region. Entry price is just $5 for adults and kids 12 and under are free. Once inside you will find over 20,000 new and used items for sale by individuals and local stores - skis, boots, poles, clothing, etc. You can find used skis and boots - the most expensive items when purchased new, for really low prices. There are volunteers there to help the uninitiated get started and to make sure the equipment fits your kids so they actually will have fun and not just be cold and falling down all day. So if you want to get your kids started in skiing, this is a great place to start!
Click <here> to go to the Ski Swap home page.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more ideas for getting your kids started with skiing.
Harley & Abby McAllister
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