Midwest Wintertime Family Adventures
Dreading the cold, I finally began to pack our bags for another family adventure. How many snacks and pairs of wool socks could we possibly need when taking a 1 year old into the winter wilderness of Northern Michigan? I still don’t know, and I still feel like packing for 20 small humans. My husband gave a head shake of disbelief at the countless duffel bags, but then proceeded to haul them to the truck without complaint.
Stepping outside, I watched my breathe disperse into thin air. As we left our house, or Base Camp as we call it, our journey began into the Pigeon River Country Forest. We opted for the back roads. Sylvie didn’t mind the bumpy route for a nap-time cruise. It’s a relief to be moving forward while she sleeps, and I felt that we were finally making good progress on the day. It’s easy to get pinned down to your house for nap time. Naps are just one of many excuses to be a homebody. I try to break that habit everyday.
It takes a lot of motivation and coffee to get out of the house this time of year. We are first time parents. Everything is new everyday. Adventuring outside in the winter as a family is beyond intimidating. I question myself all the time, but I never regret the decisions we’ve made to get outside.
After a slow drive with good conversation, we prepared to embrace the chaos and cold. We make a good team. Brent always preps the gear while I bundle up Sylvie. Our dog Tikka, who has a bit of energy built up, led us down the hiking path. We followed deer tracks and blue blazes. I could tell my husband was thinking about the next adventure, as he started to describe his kayaking training regime for summer. There were people ice fishing on the frozen lake beside us. After 32 days of pure clouds, the sun shined through the pine trees on the pathway. A small patch of blue sky appeared. I quickly burst into excitement for golden hour. It was only for a moment, less than a minute of golden light, that I realize it was all worth it. All the smiles from Sylvie prove the trip worthy.
People always ask me, “How can you be outside in this weather with a one year old?”. My response is always, “How can you be inside all day with a one year old?!”
5 Tips for Wintertime Family Adventures in the Midwest
- Wear layers that are non-cotton, especially socks! Cotton absorbs water. The water will eventually get closer to the outside temperature. Your little one’s hands and feet will be the first to get cold, so don’t use cotton on cute little fingers and toes. Without the chance of water inside gloves or boots, your kiddo’s extremities will not get to the temperature of the outdoors. We use wool base layers by preference. You can also use polyester blends. Buy them extra big so they last a few seasons!
- Don’t worry about nap time. There is a lot of stimulation outside and they will sleep the hardest after being outside all day. If they get tired, they will sleep in the pack or whatever is their means of travel. Our daughter sleeps in the pack or in the Burley (with ski kit). The motion puts her right to sleep.
- You don’t have to go far to have an adventure. Trails with easy access points are the best. Not all mom vans can get through seasonal roads to a back country wilderness. Keep it simple and make use of the trail systems closest to your home. Even if you’ve walked there a thousand times in the summer, it is much different in winter.
- Try not to gear up before you reach your destination. As you are driving you won’t realize how much sweat is getting absorbed into your clothes or between your non-water absorbing layers. Even wool socks will trap water molecules between fibers if there is no where for it to go.
- If all else fails, build a snowman! Maybe trail conditions are icy and it’s not safe to walk. Perhaps the little one is refusing to get into your pack. Whatever the chaos, just remember that you made it outside. You are out of your house and you are spending time with your family!
Thanks for checking out the EVP Blog and this Midwest Wintertime Family Adventures post about beautiful Northern Michigan!