Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting outdoors.
Since our company is based in Indiana many times people ask us what we do in the winter, “we don’t stop!”, we say with a smile. The winter season is one of our favorite times to recreate! Your outdoor activities don’t have to end when the weather gets cold, here are some reasons to keep your outdoor activity going all year long.
1. Fewer people
Enjoy going to some of the most beautiful places in the winter when the crowds are lower, you can see a whole new side of the trail with the winter snow or ice and by enjoying some solitude with fewer people there.
2. No bugs
Leave the bug spray at home, you won’t need it this time of year! In the Midwest we know our summers can get pretty muggy, and it’s only a matter of time until we get that first bug bite or see other creepy crawlers like spiders and ticks. Enjoy this time of year when the bugs are gone!
3. New winter sports
There are so many fun outdoor sports to try in the winter like cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, ice skating. If you’re not into trying out a new winter sport you can always go sledding down your favorite hill and of course you can hike and mountain bike all year round too!
4. Feel the burn
In many cases you actually burn more calories in the colder winter weather rather than in warm or hot weather. Our bodies are working harder to keep warm increasing the metabolic rate and if there’s snow on the ground that acts as more resistance whether your hiking, trail running or mountain biking. So get out there and feel the burn! Don’t forgot to hydrate just as much if not more in the winter and if you’ve been sweating get indoors quickly after working out to avoid hypothermia.
5. The snow is fun
From snowball fights to making snowmen or snowladies, what’s not to love about playing with the white stuff! The picture below is us with our homemade snowman and snow bike while we took a break on our last winter mountain bike ride in Brown County State Park.
We hope you enjoyed our list of why we love winter recreating, you can check out what winter events we have coming up on our website here: https://dnkpresents.com/events/.
Now we would love to hear from you! Why do you love getting outdoors in the winter months? Let us know in the comments and share where your next winter adventure is headed!
DNK Presents just launched the first Adventure Ambassador Program for people like you who are interested in building a community for more women, or gender neutral individuals to get outside and be empowered by the great outdoors. There is a vast gender gap of men vs. women but fortunately that gap is decreasing because of more organizations that are providing a safe space for women to feel comfortable and confidence outside. Ambassadors will build the outdoor community in their area by leading free open to the public hikes, bike rides, rock climbing, paddling, yoga or meditation experiences, and sharing events, and posts via social media. If you’re interested in building the outdoor movement in your area please contact us!
Welcome to the DNK Presents Ambassador Team Lauren Fields! Read on to learn about Lauren!
Who are you?
What is your name, where do you live. What do you do for a living?
My name is Lauren Fields and I live in northeast Indy. More specifically, it’s a plot of woods along Mud Creek between Castleton, Geist, and Fishers.
I work as a Content Marketer and do some light graphic design and photography. And I get to do it all from home, in the woods! I specifically work in the food industry, so most of my writing and photography are for recipes and cooking tips. I’m also freelancing to expand the types of projects I get to work on.
How has the outdoors impacted your life? Why do you believe it can do the same for others?
I’m my happiest self when I’m outside. Even more if I’ve just done something that makes me feel badass. I like to set adventure goals each year to keep adding to my experiences and expand what I’m comfortable with.
Being outside is like therapy for me. The fresh air helps me remember to breathe more deeply. It’s a reminder that I’m part of something bigger than myself, which helps pull me out of my head and evaluate my concerns more clearly. Being outside helps me remember that it’s just as important as an adult to allow freedom to play and daydream. I think a lot of my anxiety and stress comes at times that I’ve neglected my need to step away from to-do lists and just explore.
I think it’s common to feel overwhelmed with what is demanded of us every day. To spend time outside, especially with others, is a way of maintaining sense of self and direction among everything that’s going on.
Could you share a story about the outdoors that has taught you something about yourself?
I’ve always wanted to do a solo backpacking trip, which I finally did this summer. I went to a place I’m familiar with – Red River Gorge – to ease my nerves of going alone. I had a terrible run-in with a forest officer on Courthouse Rock who saw my gear and thought I was camping there. I was only taking in the view before continuing on the trail to set up camp in the woods, at a legal camping spot. His verbal aggression and the fact that he wrote me a warning for something I wasn’t even doing really just had me frazzled. My solo backpacking was off to a terrible start. But I was encouraged by some friendly hikers who I made quick friends with, and their understanding helped me pull myself together.
By the time I was setting up camp it started raining. I was planning on trying my new wood burning stove, but I didn’t have any kind of fire starter and all the wood was wet. I was so hungry and my clothes were all wet, and all I wanted to do was give up and go to Miguel’s for some pizza. My irrational nighttime fears were setting in, and since I was having no luck with the fire, I walked back towards the trail to see what was making the noises I was hearing. I found some camp neighbors who were starting a fire, and when I asked what their secret was, they generously shared their fire starter with me. So I was able to cook my minute rice with shiitake mushrooms and had a warm meal after all.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of distant thunder around 5 am. I was planning to be back on the trail by 7 to beat the storm (which I was expecting thanks to the weather app), but it sounded like it was coming much sooner than expected. I didn’t like the thought of waiting it out in my tent, and I also didn’t like the though of it pouring down before I finished packing up. So I packed up camp faster and sloppier than ever. It was still dark and I was having a hard time finding my way back to the trail, but when I finally did, it felt like a major victory. But since it was still dark I was concerned about spooking a bear. It wasn’t until the sun started to rise over the gorge and the clouds had moved onward that I was able to shift my thoughts from fear of the unknown and instead to the excitement of starting a day this way.
I learned that my inner voice can be the most irrational when I feel unprepared. I may be quick to feel defeated, but to accept defeat means I would be missing out on the whole experience. Each moment where I felt defeated was followed by something up-lifting. I remember this story when I’m feeling defeated because it reminds me to shift my perspective and look for the encouragement.
What is your first significant memory of the outdoors or nature in some way?
I grew up camping with my family and our friends, 5 families total. I remember being young and playing in massive puddles on multiple camping trips. I didn’t recognize this importance until recently, but to me now, this represents not giving up on the adventure. Our parents could’ve probably scheduled a rain check each of those times. But maybe it’s more realistic to accept that conditions will only rarely be “perfect” and then we’ll make the most of it.
Why do you feel it is important in today’s society to get outdoors and disconnect from technology?
We live in a world where there is always something demanding our attention. And if we’re not deliberate about what receives our attention, we can easily be robbed of our time. I think this is why it’s so important to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Because nothing is demanded of us outside.
If we open our attention to the way the moss grows on the rocks and the trees, or the way the birds are flying overhead – we are allowing ourselves to take part in the physical world around us.
What is your favorite outdoor gear?
I mainly kayak, backpack, and I’m new with climbing. Buying specific gear for all 3 activities would cost more than I can spend. So my favorite gear is anything versatile that I can apply to different activities.
For instance, I use my backpacking pack to carry all of my climb gear to the crag. I really like the nice rope bags that are minimal and specific to climbing gear, but my pack is more than enough.
Also though, for one specific splurge, I really love Ice Mule coolers. I have the roll-top 15 Liter which floats behind my kayak or is carried by my significant other when we climb or hike (while I’m carrying the pack). Because I love to pack fresh food, and in the summer, a good trail cooler is where it’s at!
Does unisex or women’s specific gear make a difference for you?
I’m not sure if I have a preference. I think it depends on the item and availability. When I was trying on packs, I only tried on the ones built for women. If none of those had felt right, I would’ve tried a unisex pack. But with my sleeping bags, I bought unisex.
Why do you feels it’s important to get more women specifically outdoors?
I think it’s important for women to be among women. So we can help lift each other up and share our unique experiences together. Some of the burdens that we carry as women feel lighter when they are understood with no explanation. I mean, we have to worry about having enough menstrual products while climbing a mountain! If we have a group of women together, chances are one of us has an extra tampon. That alone is a benefit of getting more women together.
But deeper than that, I think there’s a certain level of empowerment when women are taking on something that has been male dominated for so long. It’s our way of saying We’re Here Too.
Learn more about the Red River Gorge and things to do here: http://www.redrivergorge.com/
We are so excited to have Lauren as a DNK Presents Adventure Ambassador, we hope to see you on an adventure this year!
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
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
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!