Get the blues during months of snow, ice, and temperatures below freezing? Eventually it feels like forever since you’ve been in camp. Cabin fever sets in. How can a three season camper beat the winter blues? Read on for Mama’s suggestions.
1. Stay in shape for next summer’s big trips. Go to the gym. Instead of watching TV, pop in an exercise DVD. Walk the mall. Whatever it takes to stay fit for hiking and paddling.
2. Break in that new pair of hiking shoes or boots. Keep your feet accustomed to your old footwear. Wear your hiking footwear when you can, your feet will thank you next summer.
3. Plan next summer’s big trips. Plan your routes. Get commitments from the group. If you are travelling make the necessary bookings, reservations, and secure permits if needed. Going with friends? Have a planning party.
4. Search the internet for preferred walk-in, backpacking, and car-camping sites at your favorite weekend camp stops. Make reservations. You’ll be glad later, when you get the backpacking site on the lake you really wanted rather than a car-camping site in an overcrowded campground.
5. Plan a reunion of old expedition buddies. Better yet, plan a camping family reunion for next summer.
6. Work on your media projects. Print photos and make a scrapbook of last summer’s camp memories. Make a slideshow from last summer’s trip photos. Edit your summer camping videos. Make duplicates. These make great gifts for your fellow travelers.
7. Learn to tie new knots you can put to use next summer.
8. Take a walk down memory lane. Page through old photo albums, replay trip videos, and watch slideshows from past trips, look out the window at the swirling snow, and sigh.
9. Make a gear wish list and ensure your honey has a copy of it before your birthday or the holidays. Be specific about brands or models you want. I LOVE it when family members tell me what they want. I find shopping stressful. Hints help me get it done.
10. Shop clearance sales, buy out of season gear. Look for deals.
11. Attend canoeing and backpacking shows. My favorite is Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a three day vendor-fest put on by Rutabaga Paddlesports. My favorite parts of the show include hearing author experts speak, and meeting with small gear company owners to learn more about gear.
12. Prepare menus and dehydrate foods for next season’s trips. In preparing for trips, the big question always seems to be, “What are we going to eat?”
13. Hang out on forums and message boards to pick up tips and chat about camping.
14. Take up winter camping. Some folks love winter camping. Sometimes I think they do it just for the bragging rights. That said, the beauty and solitude of winter does have a way of touching one’s soul. Be sure to educate yourself on the risks, start in a setting with a safe and easy bailout when the weather forecast is good, and ensure you’re appropriately trained and outfitted for a safe, enjoyable experience.
15. Follow your favorite camping, hiking, paddling, and nature bloggers. You might get some new tips from them. If nothing else, bloggers tend to be pretty entertaining. Don’t forget YouTube. Backpackers and canoe trippers publish awesome trip reports and how to videos on YouTube…and it’s free!
16. Get inspired. Get out of the house and stock up on nature writing, DVDs, and more at your public library. There is no fee for loans of books, DVDs, and so on.
17. Review and rework your gear list. Strategize ways to reduce your pack weight. Update your childrens' gear list as they grow.
18. Perform gear maintenance. Most importantly, ensure all gear is completely clean and dry before storing. For example, clean and condition your boots. Patch tent and tarp seams and holes as instructed by the manufacturer. Clean zippers and apply appropriate lubricants to metal zippers if needed. Ensure no debris remains inside your gear, and remove stains. Remove batteries from flashlights. Ensure your gear is not overstuffed such that there is stress on the seams. Disassemble your camp stove if recommended by the manufacturer, and clean it (never store with fuel inside). We can go on, and on with this one. Clean and dry covers 90% of the list, and if you get clean and dry done right, you’ve won much of the battle.
19. Designate a gear storage area. Organize your gear storage area in a logical manner, with a place for everything, and everything its place. Arrange gear such that it can be packed and unpacked quickly and conveniently. Dedicate an area in your closet for outdoor clothing only, once again with everything in its place.
20. Take up snowshoeing or cross country skiing.