Take 3 doses of trees, 2 hikes and 1 ounce of meditation per week — your favorite MD
Over the past 200 hundred years humanity has started spending less and less time in the outdoors, and it has affected our mental and physical health. The millennial generation –this is what I fall into, is the most depressed and anxious generation we have seen so far, we actually have earned the nickname, “Generation Stress”. You can read more about who is stressed and why from the American Psychological Association.
Stress is mental but it can lead to physical problems and conditions in the body so much that 75–90% of doctor visits are actually stress related or PREVENTABLE and only about 25% or less of doctor visits are from pre-existing conditions.
There are many reasons as to what causes stress, money, career, family, and health are the top four. Luckily there is something we can do besides getting a script to get healthy and happy again.
Go outside, get dirty, be wild.
In Japan this form of nature as medicine has been used since the 1980s, it is called, Shinrin Yoku — which literally translates as, Forest Bathing. Shinrin Yoku has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve mood, reduce blood pressure, even increase immunity levels, and so much more. You don’t have to live in Japan to experience the benefits of the healing components of nature though.
Here are just a few benefits of going outside.
Trees give off oxygen and absorb harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. A study from the University of Chicago showed that trees reduced stress in neighborhoods because of the green environment. Hospitalsare now adding photos of the outdoors as well as more windows because it has been proven to quicken the healing process. Check out this inspiring storyof a chemo patient who saw a photo of the Grand Tetons and made it his mission to hike the 13,000 ft. mountains.
When you are outside, you are moving your body, AKA not sitting at home binge watching Netflix or getting sucked into cat videos on Facebook (guilty as charged with both of these). Exercise as we know is not only good for us physically but also mentally. Even exercising outside has more benefits than doing it in a gym, like increased levels of self esteem, mood, and energy levels just to name a few.
3. Increased overall health and wellness
By taking more time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself through nature you are able to become more fully present and therefore become more in touch with your own mind, body and spirit.
Of course going outside shouldn’t be a replacement for seeing your regular physician, always consult your doctor with any health related questions or concerns. Exposing yourself to more time outside might be something that works for you, it has for me and many others who have been part of our adventure retreats.
*Previously published on Medium via Thrive Global
Kate and I founded DNK Presents because of the impacts the outdoors has had on our lives.
Arianna Huffington was the keynote speaker at the Indiana Conference for Women a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the conference and later getting her book, “Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At a Time” signed by her in person! That moment will stay with me forever but more importantly will the many nuggets of wisdom Arianna shared with our community that day.
“75% of healthcare diagnosis in this country is preventable,” Arianna preached to us.
She went on to break that powerful statement down. Only 25% of the reasons people in the U.S. go to the doctor today is because of a pre-existing condition, telling us that 75% of the reasons we see a health care provider are actually PREVENTABLE! This was a huge lightbulb moment for me.
According to WebMD the top five preventable health problems today are, in order, obesity, diabetes, tobacco, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. More information can be found from the article here: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20170424/the-top-5-conditions-that-shorten-americans-lives—-and-are-preventable
Kate and I founded DNK Presents because the outdoors has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives. Being out in nature, trying something new in the outdoors and unplugging was and still is something that helps us overcome the obstacles we face in our personal and professional lives today.It has also tremendously improved our overall physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. We felt that getting more people outside could help others and we wanted to build a business with that same mission.
Turns out it wasn’t just something Kate and I thought, it is also proven by science and backed by countless accredited studies and research, and now also reigns true by many DNK Presents’ adventurers! You can read about the impacts of the outdoors from one of our favorite authors, Florence Henderson from her book “The Nature Fix“.
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, and while many of us shared posts, blogs, stories, etc. We feel that mental health isn’t just something we focus on for one day but every day, every moment of our lives. We have found that if it’s something we can focus on each day we can instill positive change in our lives and those around us.
At DNK Presents we know the importance of mental health and the impact it has had on us and our adventure participants. One of the ways we give back today is through outreach with great organizations like The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). We are extremely lucky to call our Indiana representative, Kelsey Steuer a great friend, fellow adventurer, and fun fact Kelsey was actually our 1st year Women’s Adventure Giveaway winner – see her shining light face on our website and on the Live Adventurously website here: https://www.liveadventurouslyfilm.com/
If you want to learn more about the AFSP please visit their website for a list of all their resources and services: https://afsp.org/
Make sure to speak with your trusted health care provider about your mental health and well-being. Whether it includes the outdoors or not we hope that you make mental health a priority for yourself not just today but every day and every moment of your amazing life. We wish you the very best this fall season and hope to see you on the trails!
“When we prioritize our well-being, everything else in our life gets better, including our products, including our performance at work, including our success.” – Arianna Huffington
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.
Have your period with confidence on your next adventure and see what feminine hygiene products are best for you and your body.
It was my first real backpacking experience with my wonderful partner but not yet wife at the time Kate, we made plans to hike in Deam Wilderness, part of Hoosier National Forest in Central Indiana. The first night we drove down after work and car camped next to the trailhead so we could get an early start on the backcountry trail the next morning. We set up camp, had some veggie dogs over the fire and lay down under the star filled sky. Nestled in our tent we fell asleep easily.
The next morning we woke to the sounds of the birds chirping, gently waking us from a peaceful slumber in the forest. I quickly realized their was something else that was waking me up, I let out a sigh as I came to the realization that my period had decided it was real comfortable in the woods too– funny how it always seems so show up at those special moments in life! Luckily I had a stash of tampons in the car so I was prepared, until I wasn’t prepared. We started out on the hike and I ended up forgetting that tampon stash. Realizing this on our hike to the backcountry where there was no sign of any women’s hygiene products for miles and miles, what was I to do? Sit on a moss patch for the rest of the weekend?
That is when Kate said, “Why don’t you use the Diva Cup”?
Diva Cup? At first I thought she was referring to a Diana Ross megaphone. “What the hell is a Diva Cup?”
I was astonished at this product Kate was describing but had NEVER heard anything like it before, probably because women don’t talk about feminine hygiene products since it’s something still considered so taboo.
I ended up surviving my period in the woods and went home to our natural food store in town and bought my first Diva Cup and honestly my first few experiences were far from life-changing. We only have one bathroom in our Broad Ripple bungalow and Kate more than once had to run outside to pee in the backyard because I couldn’t get the damn thing out of my vagina. Feeling defeated I was leaning one foot on top of the toilet the other bending down trying to get a good angle; I had flashes of blood splattering across our white bathroom and shower curtain, or even worse, going to an urgent care and having a stranger digging the Cup out of me! Needless to say for me anyways there was definitely a learning curve. My advice; don’t be afraid to dig deep, the yogi squat position is your friend, and breathe. Also, there are different brands that are for different shapes because as we know ladies we are not all the same shape and size so please shop around when looking for your next moon cycle product. I’ve listed some more products below for you to check out.
One of the things I love about Diva cups or any type of period cup is how much waste I am now eliminating. According to the Diva Cup website the average woman uses 300-420 tampons/pads per year and spends $100-$225 on these items. Plus many tampons and pads contain harmful ingredients such as surfactants, adhesives and more, if this is harmful to the environment then why the hell are we putting these things inside our bodies?! Not to mention toxic shock syndrome.
Another super benefit I love is that now that I use the Cup my cycle is shorter, yes ladies it’s real and it happens to many women who switch from tampons to a Cup. Why? When we are shoving a condensed cotton tube into our vagina how exactly is that allowing our period to “flow”? Easy answer, it’s not, it is stopping the flow and not allowing our cycle to naturally release. When you use cups or other similar products your period literally flows out of you. I went from a 6-7 day period to a 3-4 day and many of my friends have also experienced this! Can we say life change?!
Despite the disruption that can happen when Aunt Flow decides to show up remember ladies having your period means we are healthy women, so let’s make the most of this time. Check out the links I have below on some of my favorite non-tampon moon cycle products that are more environmentally friendly, healthy, and safe. Let us know what your favorites are!
Diva Cup – http://divacup.com/
Me Luna – https://meluna-usa.com/
Ruby Cup – http://rubycup.com/
*There are several more, these are a few that me or my friends have used!
Other products we love:
Go with the flow – https://animosa.co/go-with-your-flow-1/
What is your favorite period product? Why do you love it so much? Let us know so we can share with our outdoor women’s community!
Note: I am not an OBGYN nor do I play one on this blog. I am a wilderness guide, owner of an adventure company, DNK Presents, and avid outdoors-woman. I have tried a lot of period products in and outside the backcountry on many adventures near and far. I hope this article helps you whether you are taking your first outdoor adventure and have always wondered about what to do when your period comes or simply wanting to try and find other options for your feminine hygiene needs. #KeepBleeding #PeriodProducts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Contact: Kate Shepherd
Film Showcasing Transformative Women’s Outdoor Adventure Distributed Globally
DNK Presents’ Documentary Now on IndieFlix
(INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA) – The acclaimed documentary film “Live Adventurously” is now available on IndieFlix for viewers around the world to enjoy. “Live Adventurously” is featured on the front page of the IndieFlix website in the “Recently Added” category and other areas of the streaming platform.
The film from outdoor adventure company DNK Presents follows the riveting journey of the four Indiana women who won the inaugural DNK Presents’ Women’s Adventure Giveaway and took part in a four-day backcountry adventure.
The film focuses on the fears, determination and ultimate victories of the strangers during the uplifting outdoor adventure guided by DNK Presents’ Founders Danielle Wolter Nolan and Kate Nolan. The women left as friends who had shared an empowering journey.
“We are thrilled that a larger audience will get to see this film and be touched by the stories of these strong, compassionate women,” said DNK Co-Founder Danielle Wolter Nolan. “To have the film available on IndieFlix can only bring more attention to the beauty of the great outdoors and how adventure can transform your life.”
The 2016 contest winners were picked from a pool of more than 60 compelling nominations of women in need of adventure. The winners and stars of the film are Michele Lorbieski Anderson, Candice Baggett, Ali Lemberg and Kelsey Steuer.
The film follows the women as they surrendered their cell phones, backpacked through the rugged wilderness, mountain biked over hills and came across other surprises during the life changing journey.
“An inspiring look into the stories of these women and a great showcase of female empowerment!” said IndieFlix Acquisitions/Ingestion Manager Christopher Drdla about “Live Adventurously.”
The trip was a once in a life-time experience.
“I would say one of the coolest things about this whole experience has been getting to know the other women,” participant Ali Lemberg said about the adventure. “People that didn’t even know each other were a team, had each other’s backs, felt the love and championed each other’s victory. It was such a victory for all of us.”
About DNK Presents
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure retreats for individuals, groups and businesses. Founders Danielle Wolter Nolan and Kate Nolan focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something for the first time, and in turn gain confidence through experiential learning and adventures. DNK Presents founded and hosts an unprecedented event each year, the Live Adventurously, Women’s Adventure Giveaway. This event is a chance for people to nominate a woman in their life to win a customized, extended backcountry adventure weekend guided by Danielle and Kate.
IndieFlix Group Inc is a global screening and streaming service that promotes and supports social impact films to create positive change in the world. IndieFlix screening service books offline community screenings in schools, corporations, and communities around the world while IndieFlix streaming offers a monthly subscription based service to access thousands of high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, and series. https://www.indieflix.com
I recently came across Out There Adventures and Elyse Rylander through the article published in Outside magazine a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited to learn that this company existed I contacted Elyse through the Out There Adventures website and asked if I could interview and share her story with our DNK Presents community. Being a lesbian owned adventure company in the midwest Kate and I love that Elyse’s business focuses on empowering LGBTQ youth through the great outdoors. Elyse also started the first LGBTQ Outdoor Adventure Summit, what is this you ask, you’ll have to read and find out! I hope you enjoy this interview and learning more about Elyse and her business.
- What benefits did the outdoors have on your life as you were growing up in the midwest and discovering your sexual identity?
The outdoors saved me. I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who placed emphasis on connecting with nature and spending time outside. From my first canoe trip down the Wisconsin River at four weeks old to family camping trips to weekends at the ski hill just north of our house, time outside instilled in me a deep connection to myself, my family and my place in the grander scheme of things.
This was furthered by my summers spent as a canoe and kayak instructor at Rutabaga Paddlesports Shop in Madison in high school and college. Rutabaga served as the launching point for my career in the outdoor industry, and also connected me to a number of women who have profoundly changed my life, including Mo Kappes who was my boss at Rutabaga and also at Adventure Learning Programs at the University of Wisconsin. I met Mo right as I began exploring my queer identity and she was the first openly gay woman I had the opportunity to regularly interact with. Mo became a mentor of mine (still is) and is the Chair of my Board of Directors.
As I have gotten older I return to wild places to find solace and to re-center myself. It is the one place in which I am able to be myself wholly and be freed of socialized constraints.
- What inspired you to take the big plunge to start your own outdoor LGBTQ business?
I always joke that I would up on this path as the result of a mix of youthful enthusiasm and ego, and if I’m honest a bit of naiveté of what it would actually entail to grow a non-profit…
But at its core I just wanted a place for other queer young people to be able to have access to the same opportunities to cultivate community and connection that I was given. I am not much of a believer in meritocracy and instead believe that privilege and opportunity are products of luck. We are lucky to be born of a particular race, class, region, etc. which breeds opportunity, and even down to our genetic makeup we are nothing but a roll of the die. From this perspective I believe deeply that when you are lucky enough to be given the tools to succeed it is imperative to take that luck and those privileges and create opportunities that share your luck and success with others.
So, my motivation has always been centered on the desire to create more opportunities for the next generation of queer individuals to connect with new experiences, create community and most importantly deepen their sense of self.
- What has been the biggest surprise as you have grown your business?
I am not a patient person, so those who know me would not be surprised to hear me say that the slow growth has been the biggest surprise, and also biggest frustration. I very much thought if we built it they would come in mass, but that has not at all been the case. I knew we’d experience certain outreach barriers, but seven years ago I did not fully understand the depth and breadth of these issues.
As a result, everything I have done since OTA’s inception has been an outreach mechanism. From the expansion of our programming regions to program partnerships to launching LGBTQ adult programs to organizing the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit, it has all been focused on trying to increase the number of conduits in to the industry and to these outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities for queer young people.
- Could you share a story of a participant of Out There Adventures and how the experience changed their life?
Over my years in the industry I have thus far amassed something like 100 field weeks and worked with thousands of people from an immense array of ages, backgrounds and abilities. So, after extensive research I have concluded that queer young people are the most fantastic demographic to work with. I have never seen with such consistency a group that is SO kind, compassionate, understanding and caring. It has been a privilege to work with every queer young person that has come through our program, and over the years I have had the ability to work closely with one of our program participants in particular.
Zander McRae came on OTA’s first ever expedition in 2015. We spent eight days sea kayaking and camping in the Central Salish Sea when Zander was 17. Because it was a small group we were able to do a lot of one-on-one connecting with the participants. After the trip he remained enthusiastically engaged in our programs and last summer we teamed up with NOLS to get Zander to Australia for a three week sea kayaking course (his first time traveling abroad as well).
The trip helped Zander find the confidence to re-route his life plan and he is now embarking on the path to become an outdoor educator and will be beginning a semester outdoor educator course with Outward Bound this fall.
- What is your favorite trip to guide and why?
I am a paddler through and through, so any trip on the water is preferred over land-based trips. My favorite OTA trips to instruct are our 5-8 day San Juan Islands sea kayaking trips. My favorite trips ever guided are multi-day sea kayaking trips in the Prince William Sound of AK.
- If you could go on your own adventure anywhere, where would it be?
New Zealand, hands down. I’ve heard the Milford Sound is very similar to the Price William Sound, and I figure I need to interrogate this notion for myself.
- What is next for Out There Adventures?
Oofta! That’s a big question! So much is next for OTA. We’re expanding our program operating areas and hope to be across the country by 2020. We’re growing our adult programs and our program partnerships to offer more and more ways to get OUT there, and eventually I’d love to be able to bring a seasonal offering to Alaska since a part of my heart will always be there.
- Tell us more about starting the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit.
Turns out that like starting a non-profit launching a conference is pretty darn exhausting, but also immensely exhilarating!
The idea for the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit came from attending and supporting other identity-specific events in 2017 such as the Women’s Outdoor Summit for Empowerment and PGM ONE. It made a lot of sense to offer a space focused on the issues more specific to queer identities as it relates to outdoor recreation and conservation.
The result wound up as nothing sort of astonishing. We would have been happy with 40 people and a few sponsors. Instead we had to firmly cut off registration at 140 and worked with over a dozen sponsors including The North Face, The Wilderness Society and the National Park Service.
Since the event it has been most exciting to hear about the connections and partnerships that have been made as a result. I’m very much looking forward to offering this space again this year, and also to be able to expand our offerings as we continue to strive to meet the diverse array of interests and needs of the queer community.
I’m also excited to see the ways in which it is helping to change the industry. It’s hard to ignore hundreds of folks coming together around this idea of queer outdoor equity, and we need to keep pushing the industry until they become far better at representation and engagement of this demographic.
Elyse (she/her) has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures the interrogation of equity, access and privilege played a central role. In 2011 Elyse began her journey as founder of OUT There Adventures, a 501(c)3 dedicated to further bridging the gap between the LGBTQ community and the natural world. Along this path, Elyse has worked tirelessly to reduce outdoor access barriers for all members of the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in dozens of publications, presentations, interviews, trainings and program partnerships aimed at increasing queer visibility and further complicating the narrative of who goes outside and how. Elyse’s work has appeared in places such as the Rutledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, in print and person at industry events such as Outdoor Retailer, and in March of 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine. Elyse is also the co-organizer of the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Outside of her work, Elyse is known for her sense of humor best conveyed through perfectly timed message GIFs, and in her [rare] free time she can be found paddling through the central Salish Sea.
From A Campside Sessions Participant…
“I am generally an outdoorsy person; the military has exposed me to many things like rappelling, survival skills, navigating, etc, and I feel confident in my skills. Despite this, there has been one thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while that I haven’t quite gotten up the courage for yet: a solo backpacking trip. I’ve had plenty of hesitations about this idea for a long time now, but when I think about it, every single one of the excuses I come up with can be overcome easily. The main thing holding me back has been fear, and watching the film (Live Adventurously) you made about your first adventure weekend for the four women, I was truly motivated to conquer that and try this thing that I’ve never done before, for the first time. I just really felt that you needed to know about the impact you had on me, since you were talking about wanting to expand your impact outside of Indiana- you already have! Additionally, the film was beautifully done and really portrayed the magnificence of each of the women; I can’t wait to see what you guys do next.
Working with the two of you (Danielle and Kate) Erin, Charlotte and Jenny was truly phenomenal. Each of you have such a presence. You are warm, encouraging, funny and solid leaders. Again, not only was I able to learn so much about mountain biking, but it was just so renewing to meet so many rad women doing really cool shit. Working with men all day, every day, can make you forget all of the powerful qualities that women bring to the table, and I am so endlessly grateful that I was able to witness all of them this weekend. Thank you so much for all you are doing.”
-Emily Wren Campside Sessions Mountain Bike Participant
Emily’s words truly moved Kate and I and we wanted to share what she wrote to us with all of you. Kate and I love what we do and we are truly grateful for all the adventures we get to guide, people we get to meet, and the beautiful places we get to travel to. Being an entrepreneur is hard, being a woman LGBT owned business, and starting an adventure company in Indiana (something that’s never been done before) is even harder.
I read an email from a fellow woman co-founder this week, Jen Gurecki of Coalition Snow, about her struggles as a woman founder. I completely related, and while I would love to stay it’s all fun and sunshine, it’s not, just like on an adventure some days things just don’t go right, the wind changes the weather picks up and it rains…hard and it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to stop, you trudge through, carry on, and slowly the sun begins to peak through the trees. It’s on these trips or during these times of the week when things just don’t seem to work, we are tired, the to do list is never ending; but then the next day the sun comes out, we get an email from a participant saying that their experience with us changed their lives like the one from Emily above, we keep going, we keep moving, and we won’t ever stop.
That is the only reason why DNK Presents is still here – because of YOU. We have fallen, we have made mistakes, we have had set backs but that is when we get stronger, we rise up and we will never ever ever give up.
We hope you don’t either.
When you come on an adventure with us it will challenge you, it may be hard at times, it might even rain, but it also might just change your life. We hope that you leave feeling inspired, ignited and empowered to take on the world – however that looks for you.
Keep on adventuring,
Danielle & Kate
Danielle Wolter Nolan FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Outdoor adventure company, DNK Presents announces their 2018 Indiana Women’s Adventure Contest winners, Myra Ansley, Emily Faurote, Mindy Weaver-Flask, and Rose Tillison. These four women were selected from numerous nominations from across the state of Indiana to win a customized free four-day exclusive backcountry adventure. Founders of DNK Presents, Danielle and Kate Nolan will guide the adventure, taking place May 17-20, 2018 in Indiana. The four contest winners will disconnect from technology, live off the grid, and challenge themselves with new outdoor activities. In addition, a select team of inspiring, leading outdoor women will join the adventure trip as guest facilitators.
“We are beyond excited for our 4 contest winners this year and can’t wait to hit the trails with the ladies this May,” remarks Kate Nolan.
Danielle Wolter Nolan exclaims, “The Women’s Adventure Contest is one of our favorite events; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for women to be completely unplugged, try something new, meet other inspiring women, empower themselves, and build confidence through the great outdoors.”
The DNK Presents’ Women’s Adventure Contest is supported by national and local sponsors including, Rusted Moon Outfitters, KEEN, The Bike Line, Trek Bicycle, ENO Hammocks, Alps Mountaineering, Shredly, Bitchstix, Big Woods Brewery, Oakley, Skinny and Company, E.A.T., Central Restaurant Products, Enviro-Max, and more!
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. They focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, trying something for the first time and gain confidence through experiential learning. Their adventures include mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing and yoga retreats in and outside of Indiana.
DNK Presents produced and directed the award-winning film, “Live Adventurously” (www.liveadventurouslyfilm.com
The Venture Out Project
The biggest surprise to me was how many folks have come on more than one trip. When I founded Venture Out I thought it’d be the kind of thing where people came on one trip, learned some skills and then went to backpack on their own. But what I found was that for so many folks, Venture Out was their only trans or queer community. In many cases our participants may have had friends online, but many had never hung out with, or even met, another trans person. People come back for a second, third, fourth or even fifth trip because they know that’ll it’ll be an opportunity not just to be outside, but to make friends and find community.
I found out about TVOP in 2015 when a friend posted something about it on my Facebook wall. Like “Hey look at what these queers in New England are doing”. I’m originally from New England, but was/still am living in Portland, OR. I immediately contacted Perry, the founder of TVOP, and asked I could lead a trip for him. We agreed on a week long backpacking trip that summer on The Long Trail in Vermont. There were three guides and two participants!
Six months later, he hired me on as his Office Manager and now I’m the Director of Operations. We also now fill our trips to capacity (and even have wait lists!)
Guide to winter camping
by: Scott Jackson
As the weather begins to turn and many peoples thoughts turn to Christmas and the warmth of an open hearth, for some people with a sense of adventure the worsening weather isn’t an excuse to forgo the outdoors. As the Scandinavians say “Ikke dårlige vær, bare dårlige klær”, which translates as “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. So don’t make the weather an excuse. With the correct preparations, skills, and gear you can have just as much fun camping during the winter.
Planning to go camping in winter takes more skills and gear than your typical summer frolic in the woods. As such, your prep should be above and beyond to help ensure you have a safe and fun trip. It is a great idea to invite some companions, especially ones who have experience or specific cold weather skill sets, e.g., avalanche training, building snow shelters, etc.
Many preparation elements are similar to those you would do for a summer hike, such as route planning, leaving a trip plan with someone or checking the weather conditions. However, as the margins for error are so much smaller in more miserable weather, you should pay extra attention and go over your plans with your whole group two, three (or more) times to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Also, being able to recognize and avoid avalanche areas is a crucial skill, and we would highly recommend that your whole group receives training if you will be at or near any slopes greater than 20 degrees inclination. Indeed, taking a cold weather hiking or camping course may be beneficial in any event.
The first rule of winter hiking and camping is to stay dry and warm, so choose appropriate clothing that’ll insulate you, wicks moisture, dries quickly, is waterproof and breathable.
It is commonly acknowledged that you should be wearing three layers; base layer(s)* next to your skin that will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body, middle layer which will act as insulation such a fleece shirt or jacket, and finally your outer layer which should be waterproof/windproof and breathable, so you should be thinking about a good jacket.
* in especially cold weather, consider wearing two base layers.
When considering your “big 4” items (Bag, Shelter, Sleeping Bag & Pad), you should look at whether your bag, pad, and tent are appropriate for the weather conditions and upgrade if necessary. You may also need to bring a larger bag than you usually would when you consider the extra gear you will need to bring.
A cold weather sleeping bag is more heavy duty than your summer one, and is often filled with down, has additional features like a hood and draught collars. You should select a bag that is rated for temperatures about 10 degrees F colder than what you expect on the trip. As most heat is lost to the ground when you sleep, be sure to bring two sleeping pads with high R-ratings (R-Ratings are how insulated the pad is). A common hack is to place a closed-cell foam pad on the ground and layer a self-inflating pad on top for maximum insulation
Look around for a sturdy 4-season tent – these are designed with sturdier poles that can support more weight (should you get a substantial dump of snow overnight), and are often double layered to provide extra insulation and reduce condensation.
At the camp
Choosing a site & Setting Up
As you reach your appointed campsite area, make sure you have set out early enough to get there with plenty of daylight left to set up. When choosing an exact campsite location remember the following:
- do not set up on any ridges or other places exposed to high winds
- do not set up directly under trees as branches can break
- do not set up camp if there is a risk of avalanches
Once you have picked a spot, spend some time packing down the snow around your pitch areas. If you can, give it 30 mins or so to settle before beginning to pitch your tents. When pitching your tent make sure to set up the entrance, so it is at 90 degrees to any prevailing winds. Rather than using tent stakes, bring plastic shopping bags, loop the guys through the handles, fill with snow and bury them so only the tops of the handles are visible.
If it is going to be especially cold night, then build either a snow wall to protect your tent from the wind or pack up snow on your shelter from the base up – make sure you have someone on the inside pushing back against the snow, so it holds up. Once it has set this will provide extra insulation than just your tent alone.
Finally, dig out a pit under your porch (about 3 feet), so that you can sit down to comfortably take off your boots before entering the tent, plus it generates more space to hold the rest of your equipment.
If you are planning on camping in the same spot for several days or more, consider packing down and digging out trenches to create a table and benches set up to enjoy your meals. If you are just overnighting this probably isn’t worth it, but in either case, it is worthwhile bringing a smaller tent or tarp to give yourself some shelter to cook if the weather turns foul.
At cold temperatures, Liquid-Fuel stoves will perform better than canister stoves, and it is worth bringing a second stove as a contingency just in case the first one fails. Also, remember to bring extra fuel – cold weather reduces the efficiency of all stoves so you will go through more, faster.
One benefit of cold weather camping is the ability to bring boil in the bag meals which tend to be a bit more flavorful than your typical dehydrated meals. Thanks to cold weather these will be kept refrigerated (or frozen) during your trip.
Lastly, a few words when it comes to water on your trip. The first being, DO NOT eat snow! It takes a considerable amount of calories for your body to convert ice to water that it can use, and additionally snow and ice can be full of bacteria and microbes. Always, boil the snow first to kill off any bugs and to prevent yourself from expending energy.
When storing water, it is best to use wide-mouthed plastic containers so you can simply pour your hot (boiled) water into them, then flip them upside down and store them in insulated pockets. Flipping them upside down prevents the lid/drinking tube from freezing.
My Open Country is a 2 person campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. We believe life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we provide as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing.
By: Anne McCarty
This October, 13 women and I decided we were going to heighten the bar of our limitations while doing something we love. Our adventure was in the ever beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) just outside of Martinsville, Indiana and began in the Low Gap Trail Parking Lot and ended at the Fox Den Shelter at the end of the Tecumseh Trail. We set out on a trip that pushed us physically but relieved us mentally of our day-to-day stress.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
Some of the group were veterans to backpacking while others, including myself, had not been on a trip this rigorous in a while or ever. Even so, everyone motivated and helped each other out when someone was struggling or couldn’t figure something out. At the beginning, most of us were strangers to each other coming from very different backgrounds and even different states, but by the end we were a dynamic and supportive (and also an exhausted) group of individuals ready to take on the world. This adventure was the epitome of having fun while learning especially since we were all wanting to learn for ourselves. For two days we learned about water filtration, leaving no trace behind, the basics of camping, trail reading, how to rehydrate/cook dehydrated food and most importantly about our mutual passion for the outdoors.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Going to the backcountry and not having cell service can be a bit daunting but we took every precaution by bringing first aid kits, having emergency contacts, letting the folks at DNR (MorganSF@dnr.IN.gov) know where we would be going and how many of us there were, and staying on the trail. Ultimately the benefits of not being able to check social media or email showed, in joking around, sharing advice to a fellow outdoorswoman, talking about goals and plans in life, the list goes on. Beyond that, you really tune into your mind and body which made conquering this 18-mile hike with 35 pounds on your back more than manageable.
Changed for the Better
A lot can happen in two days, and I think I can say for most of the ladies, their goals for going on this adventure with DNK Presents were met. I personally exceeded my own expectations having past injuries, and I couldn’t be prouder. I learned that you don’t need half of what you think you do; to bring a long flowy skirt and baggy shirt for the drive home; to be prepared for allergies you didn’t think you had to show up; always have some sort of measuring tool, to bring at least two large water bottles; that the word “bladder” is used frequently in the backpacking world and you can go further than you think you can.
We came. We learned. We conquered this adventure.
Check out the video summary of our wild wilderness adventure below, hope you can join us on adventures in 2018!