Talk to most people about hiking and they will think of it as an activity for summer, fall, and spring. However, winter hiking is very much alive and many hiking clubs are passionate about it. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is one example; they have a vibrant winter program.
Skiing is a given—down hill and cross-country—but if hiking is your thing and you want to blaze new trails, get ready to snowshoe, or step into crampons. For the fit and adventurous, there are outings and programs to test the hardiest souls. The AMC offers two scheduled hikes to the summit of Mt. Washington, for example.
The winter climbing treks to the top of Mt. Washington are accomplished over a four-day period. The first day is spent learning technical skills. The second day involves packing right, including food and supplies, and then hiking up to overnight at a pre-summit site. The third day (depending on weather) you summit and then return the following day.
You can learn to climb ice. During the three-day program, AMC experts show you how to fit and use crampons safely and give you opportunities to use ice axes on a variety of terrain. The neat thing is that there are winter programs for everyone: From young adults to the over 50 crowd.
One special program is the SOLO Wilderness First Aid Responder course. I took the course nine years ago and it was excellent; I need to take it again. It’s now a 70-hour course and graduates receive CPR and Wilderness First Responder certificates.
Get together with friends and find a hiking club offering winter programs near you. Remember: It’s winter; plan, pack, and dress accordingly.
Pictures are of Mt. Washington–NH–White Mountains