Snow may be falling and icicles may be forming but that doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon the outdoors, yet. Moscow is surrounded with activities for everyone, all through the winter. Get out there and explore.
The presence of snow doesn’t shut down the two main trails near town, the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail and the Latah Trail. Instead, once the snow gets deep enough head out for some cross-country skiing. The University of Idaho’s Outdoor Center rents gear and local thrift stores often have some as well. Try it out for a totally different experience from the usual biking or running on the trails.
Once comfortable on the trails, students can head up to Moscow Mountain for a winter adventure. The logging roads are closed to cars in the winter, but they are fair game to cross-country skiers and snowshoers. For an added challenge, try the Headwaters Loop mountain bike trail on skis.
Rumor has it that some of the mountain bike trails will be compacted this winter so there is a possibility that mountain bikers, especially those with fat bikes could get out all winter long.
Anyone looking to ice skate can visit Hordemann’s Pond, which often freezes over enough to skate on it. If you don’t have skates grab some friends and play some broom ball. Sure, the ice rink is fun, but the frozen pond on a moonlit night is a whole different experience.
Of course with any trip in the winter, especially on Moscow Mountain, it is important to be safe and careful. Most of this seems like it shouldn’t need to be said but it never hurts to recap the basics.
In the winter it gets dark earlier. If you plan on cutting it close, bring a flashlight. In fact, I can’t really think of a time when a student on a winter outdoor trip shouldn’t have a flashlight.
Too often people rely on their smartphones if they get caught out late. The problem arises when they run out their batteries using the phone as a flashlight. Then, if something does happen and they need to make a call, the phone is dead. Save your batteries for important things like selfies and phone calls and just bring a flashlight.
Those feeling rugged might get into a situation where a fire would be handy, be sure to pack some good fire starter. A lighter is great, but you don’t need to deal with the frustration of wet fuel when it actually matters. Soak some cottonballs in Vaseline and throw them in a bag or an Altoids tin. They’ll make life much easier when you need them.
Finally, my biggest, most secret pro-tip. Right now, put one of your favorite granola bars in each of your coats’ pockets. If you’re not a granola bar person, fruit leather can be substituted. Now, don’t eat that granola bar until there is an emergency.
Often merely the thought of that granola bar can keep you, or a despairing companion going in a desperate situation. It will always be there for you. If you never run into an emergency count yourself grateful and leave it there for another day. Don’t worry, that granola bar will taste great when you really need it.
My current record is ten months and two times through the laundry for a pocket granola bar. When I finally did need it, on an icy mountain devoid of sustenance, it tasted like a five-course meal prepared by a French chef. Never underestimate the power of the pocket granola bar.
Get out there, enjoy the Palouse in the winter, just don’t go unprepared.
Cy Whitling can be reached at email@example.com