Wild Northerner Magazine 2015/16 Winter Issue - Page 59

Stay within your limits this winter

BY SHAWN WHALEN

For Wild Northerner

Hopefully, you all had the opportunity to experience the dazzling colours and adventures our wild, northern autumn had to offer. I’m already looking forward to next year’s first breath of crisp air and scents of sunburnt leaves.

I am, however, very glad it’s over. For me, the last few weeks of fall are not much fun. It’s like winter, but without the benefit of snow-packed trails and frozen lakes. I hope we don’t have to wait long for Mother Nature to deliver on those.

For many northerners, winter is their season. Others, not so much. But chances are, if you live in northern Ontario, you don’t completely hate the winter. Like me, most northerners are the in-between types, and have a love-hate relationship with winter. You always want more love than hate. To help tip the scale in your favour, here are a few tips to warm you up to the coming frosty season.

Most of us can find winter to be just as enjoyable as any other season – as long as you approach the frosty beast with respect and a little planning. Sure there is snow, freezing temperatures and razor sharp winds, but those can all be countered by properly planning your adventure. Dressing for the weather is probably the most obvious aspect of planning any outdoor activity, but checking the weather forecast, packing your gear (including your survival kit), planning your route and telling someone where you are going (and when to expect you back) are also important steps that should be included in your plans. Of course, if your winter activity of choice is skating at your local outdoor rink, you probably can do without a survival kit.

Planning is crucial to any successful adventure. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. What gets most people into trouble however, is not a lack of planning but a lack of respect. No, I’m not talking about giving thanks to the Snow Gods. I’m talking about respect for yourself and your own personal limits. Mother Nature is known to throw wrenches into the most-well thought-out of plans. It happens and we just have to take it as it comes. But if you’re stubborn like me, postponing a trip can be a hard choice to make. The wilderness is a double-edged sword; beautiful and exhilarating on one side, and ferociously wicked on the other. Make the wrong choice and you risk everything, including your life. There is no pride in being ignorant of your own limits. Knowing when to turn around is a critical skill for any outdoor adventurer and a skill to be proud of.

Stay safe, have fun and may the snow be with you.