Learning to like winter

Not to love it. But I am learning to like it. And I have photography and Hike It Baby to thank for that.

I took Kairi and A, one of the kids I babysit, to Pony Pasture Rapids today for one main reason: I wanted to get pictures of my kid(s) hiking in the snow. And a secondary reason of really wanting to see what the river looked like partially frozen, since we are just not in a climate zone where that typically happens. But the main reason I got two four year olds into a bunch of layers and drove them out was to take pictures. Instagram is largely to blame; I follow so many photographers in parts of the world that do get a lot of snow, and I get admittedly a little jealous that my winter hiking pictures all have very similar scenery. But Hike It Baby is what got me out there.

Last January was my first ever attempt at Hike It Baby 30–the goal of which is to hike 30 miles over the course of the month with your kids, or to spend 30 minutes outside 3 times a week. We didn’t come anywhere close to our goal. SAD, PPD, work, and my overall hatred of cold weather kept us indoors most of the month. The next one I attempted was in September, and we pulled off the 30 miles a couple days before the month was over–but we also had GLORIOUS weather in September.

Between following Hike It Baby (and the 10K Women Trail Project) on social media, and getting to know the mamas in my own branch, I have seen so many women getting outdoors with their kids in all kinds of weather, and it has been extremely motivating. I can’t use the cold as an excuse. I can’t use having small kids as an excuse. There are ways around it, ways to still get outdoors. Yes, it takes longer, and no, they don’t spend nearly as much time playing in the backyard as they do when it’s nice out, but it’s worth it Every. Single. Time. It’s worth it to see the little faces lit up with wonder at seeing a frozen lake for the first time, or admiring their pink cheeks when they first come in from the cold. It’s worth it when they stand outside and watch their breath fog up in the air, or swing from vines that are normally too hard to reach due to undergrowth. (It’s worth it in how much less illness we’ve had to deal with this year!)

I know, without a doubt, that without my local Hike It Baby community, and the community of hiking mamas and photographers I’ve found online, I would not have done today’s hike. And it was beautiful. It was in the lower 20s and everything was covered in snow, but we had the place nearly to ourselves. Other than one runner and a few people out with their dogs, it was just me and the girls. They played, they threw sticks in the water to see if they would sink or bounce off the ice, they even sat in one place for about 10 minutes “fishing” with long, supple branch, until I finally got so cold from staying in one place I asked them to move along. At one point I was able to just stand there and take it in. The cold. The stillness. The beauty. It was so peaceful, and it felt so hidden and enchanted. A secret garden of snow and ice.

I still prefer the warmth. I don’t like the hassle of getting everyone into and out of layers, and not being able to just send the kids into the backyard whenever they start to get a little too antsy. But for the first year, I am finding ways to enjoy winter, and to see the art in it firsthand, and to let my child experience all four seasons equally.

Published by Whimsy & Wilderness Photography

I am a photographer and writer based in Chattanooga, TN, and adventuring around the southeastern United States with my husband and two children.

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