I remember the first time I stopped to listen to the sound of snow falling hard in the countryside. It sounded like the rush of water, distant and muffled. I can also remember the sting of staying out too long in wet clothing at the sledding hill. Winter can be subtle, or gloomy, or hostile, or beautiful. It’s one of the most varied seasons in our region, and your experience with it can vary greatly depending on your activity and how well prepared you are.
In this issue, we’ve included tips on how to beat the winter blues when you’re not playing on the mountain. Try winter bike commuting (with a fat bike, or studded tires, or in any case several layers), winter fishing (not ice fishing, in case our El Niño forecast holds true), or snowshoe through Yellowstone National Park. Build a snow cave that can double as survival training by using tips from our Primitive Skills column.
We’ve also included some ways to stay active indoors. Winter can be a nice season to slow down, focus on health and wellness, and read a nature-inspired book. Climbing an indoor rock wall may boost your mood when the weather is just a bit too bleak. And you can catch us at the Spokane Great Outdoors and Bike Expo on February 17-18 to enjoy outdoors- and conservation-related talks, exhibits, gear and more to start planning for 2024.
This issue also features the last Out There Kids column, which has been written by Amy McCaffree for many years. Through her column and family outdoors guides, Amy has become a valuable resource on how to get outside with kids in every season. She has shared her ups and downs, favorite kid-friendly places, recommendations for gear, and how to navigate in the outdoors as a family (or try your best). When I planned a trip to Maui with my toddler, I reached out to Amy, who gave me the gem of advice to find a “baby beach,” a place where the surf is broken on outer reef and creates a pool of calm water for kids to more safely explore. These are the sort of tips from parents who have gone before you that make it a little smoother to experience the outdoors with kids.
Whether or not you have kids, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, it’s worthwhile to teach kids how to get outside and get to know our public spaces. These kids are our future conservationists, climate activists, and recreationists who will become the heart of our community. That’s why Out There Kids will continue as a department in this magazine, sharing those hard-earned, word-of-mouth stories from other outdoor parents.
To Amy, from Derrick, Shallan, and me: thank you for your years of writing about your trials while parenting in the outdoors. You’ve inspired us and many other #outtherefamilies in our region.
To all, here’s to the coming year of outdoor excursions.
Lisa Laughlin, Managing Editor