Living in Vermont the winter seems to be almost half the year. So when the weather lightens up a bit we need to take advantage of it. What do we consider lightening up? Anything above freezing. This week we have been blessed to have the temperature be above 35 degrees almost every day! Some days it was even raining. Really, raining in the winter here is crazy. Typically this time of year we are shoveling ourselves out of mountains of snow. So, with there not being much snow on the ground we are taking to the great outdoors. It is time to enjoy an amazing break in the long dreariness of winter and soak in some much-needed sunlight.
When people think of Vermont in the winter they think of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. However, with there being a lack of snow (except on the slops) we decided to take to some lower elevation trails and get some walking in. Even though we live in the country, we aren’t on a remote back road, secluded from others, so taking some time to get farther out in nature is amazing. Seeing the local river flowing with ice chunks hung up on the banks, the browned grass from last season swaying in the breeze and the patches of snow perfectly painted in the pastures all give a sense of peace. Hearing the birds chirp and the rocks crunch under our feet all add to that peaceful feeling. What a gift to have this day to explore and enjoy the beauty that Vermont holds.
Seeing the amazing “warm” weather report the night before, I grabbed my flashlight and stumbled my way into our barn. I was on the hunt for our hiking stuff. Specifically our backpacks, stove, and essentials. I was planning on surprising the kids with a fun break from our everyday homeschooling and going for a winter hike. After finding what I was looking for, I got some snacks together, including some hot chocolate packets, warm layers, water bottles, backpacking stove, and lined up all our bags, ready to go.
When the kids woke up the next morning they were excited to be going on a mini adventure for the day. Turns out some friends of ours were thinking about taking advantage of this great weather too, and messaged me to see if we wanted to get together. After loving our idea we all met near one of the entrances to a local rail trail (an old railway line turned recreation path). We started our hike over a wooden bridge with views of all those ice chunks scrunched up on the shores.
We continued on with the rocks crunching up beneath our feet, the grass swaying in the breeze and great conversation with friends.
When we were half way through our hike, we stopped to enjoy our hot chocolate and snacks. Our friends were amazed at my DIY backpacking stove set up. I can’t claim credit, as I got the idea from someone on YouTube. However, I have to say I was probably just as excited, to be using our summer equipment in the winter. While the water was heating up the kids were able to run and play, even discovering an old building foundation. Since they were playing, my friend and I got a chance to chat some more. The peacefulness of chatting with a friend while the kids played was so refreshing, but seemed even more so since we were outdoors. When the water was boiling we got everyone set up with their snack. There is something about “cooking” our snack on the trail that seems to make it taste so much better than at home.
The walk back was just as amazing. Besides seeing the same stunning scenery, we happened upon a caterpillar crawling across the trail. That alone goes to tell you how much warmer it has been here. Of course we took the time to stop and stare. After checking it out the kids got some sticks to help move the little critter out of harms way.
So while this was just a little 3.5 mile walk, a few miles from home, with some friends, it was also a fun winter adventure. So while we may not have gotten our typical homeschool lessons done that day, we did cover PE (walking), science (caterpillar), history (foundation), and life skills (layering to stay warm in the winter). The kids learned a lot and had a whole lot of fun doing it.
Take advantage of the lovely weather, when you have some. Enjoy it while it lasts. Your spirit will be uplifted, mood brightened and will help make this long winter enjoyable for you and your kiddos. As I finish writing this post up, we are under a winter advisory for heavy snowfall, with it coming down like crazy. While it may be colder outside, the fresh snowfall seems to make everything look new. I am already planning our next mini adventure…snowshoeing. I can’t wait!