Winter Is Here and So Is Adventure

Hamziye takes in the view a top Rattlesnake Ridge in North Bend, Washington.  Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

Hamziye takes in the view a top Rattlesnake Ridge in North Bend, Washington. Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

When I discovered what hiking was, it was a summertime. I had a lot of free time on my hand and I was too young to work. All of these factors combined meant my teenage brain was practically dying of boredom. I was excited when I started hiking since it took up a lot of time and I wasn’t bored anymore. Every year I waited impatiently until summer came around so I could hike again. In my mind, I thought those were actual requirements: how could you hike anywhere without sunny weather and perfectly blue, clear skies?

Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

I did not have anyone else to tell me otherwise either. So, year after year, I passed the cold Pacific Northwest winter indoors. Year after year, I waited for summer in order to pull out my hiking boots. I limited myself due to lack of knowledge and the worst part was I did not even realize it. As I got older, I learned more about the outdoors from social media and I learned even more from friends and classmates. I started working in the outdoor gear shop on my college campus. It involved working with a lending library that included a lot of unfamiliar winter outdoor equipment. That led me to learn more about the gear that I needed in order to explore the outdoors in any type of weather.

The experience was very new to me. I was privileged in that I went to a school that rented outdoor gear for their students. I was so grateful when I discovered this new resource on my school campus. After I felt I had enough knowledge, I rented the gear that I needed which included the following:

Lake 22 is a 5.4 miles hike near Mt. Pilchuck in the North Cascades.  Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

Lake 22 is a 5.4 miles hike near Mt. Pilchuck in the North Cascades. Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

  • Puffy insulated jacket

  • Waterproof rain jacket/pants

  • Micro-spikes

  • Hiking boots

  • Long socks

  • Gloves

  • Hats

When it came to winter hiking, I learned that I had to be extra prepared due to how quickly extreme weather could roll in and how easily I could unintentionally put my life in danger. So in addition to obtaining appropriate gear, I learned to check the weather and take appropriate precautions.  I also made sure to pack extra socks and pants in case I got wet. Nowadays, before I hike a new trail, I research it online—oftentimes via the Washington Trail Associations website to find up to date information about the trail condition. This website is a lifesaver; it gives me the exact location of the trail, elevation, and length along with weather condition and gear recommendations.

Hamziye pauses to take in the scenery during a 4.6 mile hike at Heather Lake in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

Hamziye pauses to take in the scenery during a 4.6 mile hike at Heather Lake in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Photo courtesy of Hamziye Aman.

Learning what gear to wear and how to properly prepare for winter hiking meant that I could enjoy myself and feel more confident in the outdoors. My first winter hike was amazing. I was blown away by the pristine beauty and by just how much snow and ice had transformed the environment. While the trails were not new to me—I had hiked them many times during the summer—winter conditions made them feel almost unrecognizable. All of those changes just made me fall in love with hiking even more. Now, I look forward to winter just so I can glimpse it’s beauty