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A New Year, a Renewed Drive to Get Outdoors

Meegan Scanlon

New Years Eve; the time of year when my younger self was ready to party.

But of recent New Years has taken on a new meaning.

Not to imply it was maturity that lead to the change, although I like to think I do have a little of that. It was because New Years became a chance to set the tone for the year to come.

In a Psychology Today article Matthew Hutson points out that “temporal landmarks (such as a new year) often motivate aspirational behavior.”

Not a shock to most, I know. But it is the motivation behind it that is important.

As humans we get blinded to anything not on our immediate path.  Hutson explains that these landmarks can interrupt linear time, causing us to look-up from the track we are on and consider our ultimate goal. So basically, New Years can be like a metaphorical kick in the butt, forcing us to stop and take stock.

Hating the winter seems like a horrible waste of 5 months every year.

This is good, because it allows us to move forward and away from behaviours we view as detrimental, such as a drop in activity levels during the winter months.

In my work I talk to people all the time about what they get up to during the winter. With-out fail, the person who loves winter spends lots of time outside and the person who hates it will spend almost no time.

I know this seems like a chicken or the egg situation, but hating the winter seems like a horrible waste of 5 months every year. So why not embrace your inner winter lover as you kick start the new year.

Now, the next step is figuring out what to do, but trust me, that’s the easy part. It is your own personal choose your own adventure.

  • Awaken your inner tracker. See who can identify the most prints in the snow or make a scavenger hunt out of it. Take pictures of the mystery tracks to look up at home. For good hunting grounds check out the Couchiching Conservancy’s website for Nature Reserve trails. 
  • One winter sport I often suggest is snow-shoeing. If you can walk, you can snow-shoe. You can easily set your own level of difficulty, but most anyone can snowshoe a packed trail. It gets the blood pumping, which keeps you toasty warm, even on the chilliest of days. There are tons of trails to use, most of which are free. My family and I particularly enjoy two trails near Washago, the Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve and the Alexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve.
  • If you are feeling a little more adventurous try Cross-country skiing. A classic winter sport, which has you gliding through the woods and getting a great cardio work-out at the same time. If you are starting out I would suggest checking out somewhere that has groomed trails such as Hardwood Hills or Horseshoe Resort.
  • Actually Horseshoe offers a unique opportunity to cross-country ski and snowshoe at night. They use lanterns to light the trails giving the experience a peaceful and magical feel.
  • Outdoor skating isn’t just for hockey anymore. There are plenty of outdoor skating trails that snake through the forest or across water-ways. Check out Arrowhead Provincial Park, Bracebridge Memorial Park, or The Cranberry Ice Trail at Johnston’s Cranberry Mars.

Really I could go on and on and on. Tobogganing, forts, dog sledding (WAY more work than they make it look in movies),  and winter camping (try out the yurts in Algonquin or at MacGregor Point, a very popular New Years Eve activity).

Really, no matter if you are already a winter enthusiast or not, this should be the New Year’s to make a commitment to yourself to try something new and maybe a few old favourites. Because you never know, you might just find yourself falling in-love with wonderful winter.

 

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Meegan Scanlon is a volunteer with The Couchiching Conservancy, a non-profit land trust dedicated to protecting the special natural places in our region for future generations.