December 23, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Hiking, Skiing or Snowshoeing

Get Outdoors (Comfortably!) this Winter

"There's no reason to give up being outdoors just because winter is here"

By Karen Denison

At Home Outdoors

Karen Denison is owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing guide service, a former biologist, and a shameless admirer of the outdoors.

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Who's afraid of Old Man Winter? There's no reason to give up being outdoors just because winter is here.  Here are a few suggestions to keep you happy outside whether you are hiking, skiing or snowshoeing:

Expect to wear different clothes.  Fashion, meh!  This is Santa Fe, so don't worry about cuteness as much as function.  Since the very best insulator is air, wear layers that are big enough to trap some.  Buy a pair of slightly large wind-proof pants to wear over your insulation--if your butt is warm, you'll be happy!

Don't forget your feet.  One of the classic mistakes is to think you can wear your summer hiking shoes with an extra pair of socks.  Here's what happens: the thick socks in your normal shoes actually compress your blood vessels, cut off circulation, and result in cold feet!  Invest in a pair of winter hiking boots that are roomy, over the ankle and waterproof.  You should be able to wiggle your toes.  Even a pair from the second-hand store can make the difference between being cold and being comfortable.

Bring a treat.  You're earning your calories, so don't bring dog kibble for a snack.  Sugar and fat are okay in moderation and a little thermos of hot chocolate or tea is delightful.  Even keeping your water bottle inside your pack (where it stays warmer) can feel very welcome when it's time to hydrate.

Go with a friend.  It's more fun and it's safer.  But it's still a wise idea to leave a note or tell someone else where you're planning to go and when to expect you back.

If you're interested in a particular activity like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, consult with the fine shops in town or sign up for a class at the Santa Fe Community College.  Don't let winter keep you inside!

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