Winters can be dreary and many of us get stuck inside wondering what to do. As we reach the peak of winter here in Bozeman, Montana the days are short and the sunlight can be hard to come by. Many folks are stuck arriving at work at dawn and leaving at dusk, which can make it hard to get out and about. Not being active and lack of sun can have a drastic effect on both your physical and mental health. 

Through our retail shops we always meet a few folks who aren't as stoked on the cold or winter in general. One thing our team has noticed after chatting more, is generally those who don't like the cold, don't have hobbies or activities that they look forward to during the colder months. We want to take a second and try and give some insights into our passions that make winter such a special time of the year for us. 

There is an endless list of sports and hobbies that you can get into during the winter. Everything ranging from adrenaline pumping sports like ice climbing and backcountry skiing to relaxing activities such as bird watching or hikes with the dogos. Find a new reason to fall in love with winter by getting outside and trying new things. Here are some examples of what some of our staff members look forward to in the winter to help inspire some ideas.

Kitt:  "It might sound crazy, but on long hot summer days I crave the cold dark nights sitting next to my fireplace. I enjoy the whole process from finding the perfect tree to cut, bucking it up, splitting kindling, and building the perfect fire bundle. It's hard work, but I rarely feel more content. Something about knowing you're going to warm and cozy when its -15 degrees outside, I guess!" 

A handful of years back my wife and I moved into a funky (I mean really funky) old miner’s cabin west of Boulder, Colorado. It was cold and the wind blew straight though the walls, so fire was very necessary. I found an old Plumb felling axe in the shed there and decided to restore it to use as my splitter. I restored and re-hung the axe while sitting next to the fire and still use that Plumb to this day. I’ve restored a bunch of axes and tools since but restoring and using that axe serves as one of my best memories!”

Brian: “My favorite winter activity these days is teaching my 3-year-old son how to ski. I mentioned this recently in his presence and he told me proudly "I already know how to ski Daddy" so maybe I should be just saying 'skiing with my son.' But it's really great seeing his excitement on the slopes with him dancing and howling like a wolf. A few weeks ago, we tentatively took off the ‘Edgie Wedgie’ (training wheels for skis) and he didn't skip a beat! 

As of late, he just wants to ski through the woods in powder, which is my preference anyway -- so that's been fun! It's also been comforting as a father to see his control and ability to stop at any time he wants, which will hopefully set him up for success as a lifelong activity.” 

Dustin: “While I like to do a lot of winter sports, ice climbing is something I look forward throughout the year. I first got introduced to the sport during my freshman year of college up in Alaska. With majority of the environment being frozen almost 9 months out of the year, you have to find hobbies around that. The thing that fascinated me most is it gives to access to places you would never be able to see or enjoy unless you were there to climb. The romantic aspect of ice climbing is, unless you are with other climbers, you are totally isolated from the general world.

 Initially we would get to our spots by trekking up these frozen rivers by foot, which can be a pretty demanding task in itself. Most ice climbs really revolve around frozen waterfalls and rivers. Navigating this frozen landscape is extremely demanding on the body, mind, and especially your equipment. 

If you were to break down a day’s trip into chunks, 30% of the time is the approach, 20% of the time is hanging out being stationary, only 20% you're actually climbing, and 30% trekking out. So not only are you always doing this in below freezing temperatures, but you are constantly going back and forth from working up a big sweat to being completely stationary. There are not very many activities that are as demanding on having high quality gear to be successful. My High-E Hoodie has been my most consistent piece of gear these last few years, as it truly does it all. Having a hood that is compatible under my helmet is a must because whether you are climbing or belaying below you have to have your helmet on the entire time. 

Dylan: “There is something special about fly fishing in the winter. For me, there is nothing more beautiful than a semi frozen river with mountains in the background. The contrast of the bright white snow with the river and trees makes it like a real life black and white filter. The idea of breaking through shelf ice to go stand waist deep in frigid water might seem crazy to some folks, but there is something about conquering the conditions that draws me to it. Feeling comfortable in places where other people refuse to go puts a grin on my face.

 Spending long days out on the water requires a very specific set of layers and gear to stay warm out there. This year my favorite edition to my set up has been our Wooly Bugger Overhat. I grew up pulling a beanie over my baseball cap, which would give me such a headache from pinching my glasses, so this has really been a killer piece for me.

 The rivers can be packed in the summer when its sunny, but I rarely see others out when its below freezing. In the winter, it seems like everything is so much quieter. You can really hear the rush of the water and it just makes it feel like the whole world slows down. Many days you will get ice buildup on the eyelets of your rod and your fingertips are freezing, but when you finally get into a fish you feel this surge of warmth rush through your entire body. When a big fish is peeling off drag of a frozen reel, it just makes this crisp clicking noise that makes me want to lose my mind. The best part is when you pull your hands out of the water from releasing a fish and watching the steam rush off. You know your hands are going to be freezing, but it’s totally worth it.”

Sami: “This year I have been having a ton of fun cross-country skiing! We have a group friends with a wide range of different ski levels and this is one of the sports that really allows our whole group of girlfriends to squad up and do something fun. Some of the other sports we do you aren’t always able to carry a conversation, whereas with XC it’s really a good opportunity to actually be able to talk and hang out. We hit up Cloman trail sometimes as a lunch break or an after-work rally with it being so close and convenient.

I first started in Pagosa about 5 years ago. I think when you first get going it can be a bit awkward and takes a little bit to get used to, but definitely grows on you over time. I like that you can get out and do a quick ride or spread it out over a few hours. If you are just getting into the sport, one thing I would recommend is always start cold! If you are warm and comfortable when you start, you are going to overheat and sweat as soon as you get going. With this in mind, I generally go pretty light on the layers. I normally rock my River Run Hoodie with a vest for the top and some baselayer bottoms with an Access Skirt for bottoms.

The thing I look forward to most is on a full moon we go up Fall Creek Rd to Wolf Creek. There is a moment where you go from darkness to breaking above the tree line to this amazing view. On a full moon night, you can see the full range of the mountains that you might not be able to see in other conditions. There is also nothing better than cruising around on the skis with a good group of friends and finishing the night with a brewski in the hot springs.“

We hope this gives some insight into some of our passions and why these activities are so special to us. While we mentioned a few of our favorite things, there are hundreds of different sports and hobbies you can get into to make winter your new favorite season! 

Dress warm out there, link up with the homies, and try something new! We would love to hear what you are all passionate about. Tell us your story with #VOORMI. 

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