I consider myself a pretty active person. I am constantly moving with my kids and really feel it when I don’t get outside and active on a daily basis.
I love to walk and ski and bike and run and get my heart pumping. My appreciates and supports me doing that too because I’m just happier at the end of day.
But, I never realized how much I need that kick out the door too until I was held accountable by 830 other people, even just to log a mile a day.
When we built the #365MileChallenge, I didn’t think a thing of it. Those miles would be “too easy” for me to accomplish.
I didn’t account for the cold and snow and busy schedule and holidays and all those other really normal reasons why we don’t get out!
Because let’s face it – getting out when it’s warm and nice out is much easier. Less clothing, less obstacles, less reasons running in our heads about why we can just “skip one day”.
Sometimes you just need a little help getting out….
But, it’s hard to stay at home when you see others striving to have “no zero days”. It’s hard not to feel a tad guilty about sitting on Facebook when your feed is full of photos of people logging their miles.
Normal people. People who are having to work hard to get out too. Over 800 people from around the world!
I’m incredibly inspired by a huge range of geographic locations, pursuits (boating, skiing, walking, snowshoeing, doing laps around the playground, etc.), and ability levels.
I’m blown away, humbled, inspired and excited about 2017!
It’s not too late to join us! We have a ton of great sponsors who believe in our project lining up for member-exclusive giveaways, discount codes and perks.
***This post is sponsored by Pine Mountain, because cozy fires are truly one of the best parts of winter camping!**
To be honest, our summers are usually pretty hit or miss as far as camping trips. We do most of them in the spring or late fall when my wildland fire husband is more available. So, this winter I was determined to book as many winter camping weekends (or mid-week *homeschool perk*) that I possibly could. Let’s just say it’s made the last few weeks very busy (and very fun!)
Camping in the winter is easily overlooked by families who worry that there are too many variables and unknowns. Quite frankly, I enjoy winter camping in many ways far more than summer camping for a variety of reasons:
Cozy cabin days and nights
No bugs or creepy crawlies
In general less traffic and hikers
Easier to store food
Bears are hibernating (usually)
Over the past month we have done 4 different cabin/yurt stays with our 4 young kids (aged 10 mo – 7). Some of locations we were able to drive right up to, but some we had to work a little harder to get to them! This post is all our best tips AND gear recommendations! We also have one more trip planned so will update afterwards as necessary.
Quick tips for winter camping (in a cabin or yurt!)
Plan ahead or visit during the week. Cabins are booked many months in advance for holidays and prime expected winter conditions. I sort of got on a last minute kick as far as booking up and we took advantage of the fact that we could leave during the week. We also scored with great snow wintery conditions perfect for skiing and playing, though that’s always a gamble.
Stay at least 2 nights. The first night is always the hardest, the second night is always much better. And going less than two nights just doesn’t make all the hard work worth it!
Consider Access. Do you need a 4WD vehicle? Will you be skiing/snowshoeing in your gear?
Don’t forget to get your code/key/combination! It’s super easy to forget you actually need to be able to get IN the cabin. Call ahead the day or two before you go (be aware of weekends and holidays) for the combinations.
Be ready for changing conditions. Winter camping is obviously in the winter. A bluebird day can turn into blizzard conditions very quickly. Check forecasts, bring layers, and plan on the possibility of needing extras of hats, mittens, and clothing.
Plan on a cold cabin/yurt. Build a fire and haul in gear, shovel snow and play while you wait for it to warm up. Avoid arriving after dark just for convenience sake. Usually the cabin/yurt starts out colder than the outside air. Realistically, a cold cabin can take hours to warm up adequately.
Need Water? Some cabins have access to water and others don’t. Do your research and plan accordingly!
Don’t forget lights. Winter days also means shorter days. Your headlamp is your best friend for outside play, trips to the outhouse and hauling firewood. Bring extra batteries too!
Bring games, reading material and prepare to relax. It’s all about getting those cheeks nice and rosy outside and then warming up inside.
Pack Light. It’s ok to wear just about the same thing the entire time (depending on how many days you stay, of course). I use the Deuter Zip Packs and can fit all four kids in a small duffel. More on that coming soon….
Plan sleeping arrangements. We (Mtn Papa and I) usually split up and have one of the youngest kids with us. Because M is still nursing, I prefer to bring a double sleeping bag so we both have some room to move AND keep warm. Be aware that many top bunks in cabins don’t have railings so are not ideal for young kids.
Simplify your meals. We usually have soup and bread for one dinner and hot dogs or spaghetti for the second. Breakfasts are sometimes pancakes or eggs, but more likely bagels or yogurt and granola. Plan on the face that you’ll be expending more energy staying warm, though, and may need extra food!
A Packing List of Must-Have Items:
Cabin Slippers. Do NOT forget this one. Not all cabin floors are super clean and snow will be tracked in. I highly recommend the Baffin Cush slippers (starting for kids about aged 5 – adults). They are warm, have a nice thick sole (because I guarantee you someone will walk outside in their slippers) and pack very well. Some of our family has the bootie style and some have the lower style. Both are great.
Headlamps. Even if the cabin has electricity, they come in super handy for after-dark potty breaks. Make sure you have one for every person.
2 Pair of Base Layers (one can be used for sleeping – Wee Woollies are great sleepers for the kids).
Extra wool socks – We always bring 2-3
Hand sanitizer – washing hands isn’t always super easy, so we rely on this to at least cut down on germs.
Clorox Wipes. I like to put about 10 in a Ziplock and bring them with us. Great for wiping down surfaces as needed.
Action Wipes – our favorite shower-alternative. And they also take off marshmallow goo like a boss!
Pack and Play if you have a crawler. Not all cabins are crawler-worthy. I’ve been super thankful for ours just as a place to put the baby down.
The Mill Creek Cabin is easily accessible. If the fenced-in work area is snowed in, you can park and walk only a few hundred yards. It has two bunk beds, so our family was tight, but doable. I brought a Pack-and-Play for the baby which was invaluable just as a place to set her down. The floor was pretty filthy and not suited for crawling babies (even for this mom who usually easily overlooks dirt).
I appreciated the fact that there was no evidence of mice, a clean outhouse and firewood readily available.
This cabin is heavily used and some people leave it cleaner than others (don’t be the one that leaves it a mess for the next people!)
We also got lucky with some great snow and were able to ski right from the cabin up the nearby trails.
I have been talking about visiting Harriman State Park for over 5 years now. We were swayed for years by the fact that they don’t allow dogs to stay in the yurts, but really wondered why we waited so long.
There are two yurts at Harriman that are nearly identical. We visited with our friends (who also have 4 kids about the same ages as ours). The yurts are far enough away from each other for a little privacy, but close enough to be able to easily access each others. To be honest, I don’t think I would have liked it as much if someone we didn’t know was in the other yurt, but this worked out perfectly.
There is tons of room for the kids to run around the yurts and play.
The yurts are very clean (really the cleanest place we stayed this winter, by far). The two bunks (double on bottom, single on top) are comfortable and safe (great railings on top) for kids. The husband and I tend to split up and each take a younger kiddo in a bottom bunk, and that worked great here too.
Water is available, but there is no electricity (which I kind of like!) It was -20 degrees when we were there and we managed to play and ski and hardly notice.
The ski trails actually hadn’t been groomed yet, so we didn’t have to pay the ski pass fee, but they were fine for classic skiing. We got a ton of snow while we were there.
This week’s inspire-you post is by Elisa Rispoli (check out more about her here!) I love this especially because she writes about an area I am totally unfamiliar with. Also be sure to scroll down to check out our last two sponsors – they have been absolutely invaluable in our home this winter and we care SO excited they’re a part of this!
A Winter Adventure in Lake Placid, NY by Elisa
To the typical family, childhood milestones sound a bit like this: first word, first step, first tooth — to the outdoor family, childhood milestones sound a bit different.
Last year, when our oldest was four years old, he had some big ones. He climbed his first indoor rock wall to the top, skied and snowshoed for the first time, and hiked his first summit all on his own. That last one was not without the errant tear shed from this proud hiking mama. And, not particularly on purpose, most of these milestones were all achieved at our favorite family vacation spot on the east coast, Lake Placid, New York.
Whether you know of Lake Placid as the host of the 1980 Winter Olympics, or as the setting of an awful horror movie starring a giant crocodile, you really should know it as an outdoor adventure seeker’s playground.
The activities are endless, and are for all seasons! My husband, Matt and I are aspiring 46ers (46ers are hikers who have climbed all 46 of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Only 24 more to go!), so we hike in the Lake Placid area often.
During our last two trips out to Lake Placid in particular, we really were able to experience some amazing family activities that helped to create some of the best memories we’ve made during our outdoor travels.
Five must-do’s in the High Peaks for the Outdoor Family
1. Hike Cascade and Porter Mountain
This hike is like one stop shopping when in the ADK’s. Two high peaks down (only 44 more to go!) in one day, and some of the most breathtaking views of the mountain range that you’ll get. We put both of the kids in our Deuter Kid Comfort 3’s for this hike, since it requires a bit too much rock scrambling for our little guy. They were both comfy the entire six-hour round trip and enjoyed the views at the top as much as we did.
2. If you have a child who wants to hike on their own, be sure to hit Owls Head
This was our four year old’s first summit, and it’s a perfect hike that’s easy enough to do but still comes with a very rewarding view. If you are there during the summer season, strap a stand-up paddle board to the car and hit Cascade Lake on your way back into town. It’s the perfect place if you want some solitude, awesome surrounding views and a place to cool off post hike.
3. Ski (or ride) The Face
We thought we loved Whiteface Mountain for its gnarly altitudes and usual fresh powder, but we learned recently that the real reason to love it (as a parent) is the amazing kids program. Situated on an entirely separate part of the mountain, the Bear Den Lodge hosts your little non-skiers at its awesome Cub Camp and teaches your aspiring snow junkies to ski and ride at the impressive Snowsports School. One lesson later, and my little dude left with a new-found love for skiing and a new-found kid crush on his fun ski instructor, Megan.
4. Make like Cool Runnings and hit the track, bobsled style
There are so many amazing Olympic sites to visit in Lake Placid during Winter. The ski jump complex is definitely something to see, ice
skating on the Oval in front of the “Miracle on Ice” rink is awesome, but the one thing that should be on your Olympic Sports Complex bucket list is the Bobsled Experience. The kids were too small for this one, but this was a thrill that we knew we couldn’t miss out on. Racing down the Olympic track while a professional driver makes all your 90’s Cool Running fantasies come true (No? Just me?) … Yes, please!
5. Snowshoe or cross country ski at the Mt. Van Hoevenburg sports complex
There were so many things we loved about this activity. We took our first snow shoe hike with both boys in our packs, and then after a rest inside the beautiful lodge, we went back out with my four year old trying out his first pair of shoes. There was lots of falling and making snow angels, but everyone had such a great time. And, if you’re there on the weekend, check out the new Josie’s Cabin. A cabin in the woods that you’ll pass on trail, where you can stop in for hot waffles and s’mores by the fire, is always a good plan when your with your family.
Add ice climbing, rock climbing, dog sledding on the frozen lake, insanely delicious restaurants and beer to boot, and it’s not hard to see why Lake Placid is our go-to outdoor family fun spot when we are looking for adventure in the east. Happy Adventuring!
Win from Dry Guy and Sauce!
We know that whether your adventuring and skiing in Lake Placid, or Yellowstone it’s important to keep those boots dry and warm between adventures. We’re so excited to have Dry Guy as a sponsor as we wrap up our final few days of Adventure Through The Holidays. Because dry boots and mittens/gloves are so worth it! We have been using our Force Dry DX and Travel Dry literally every day around here. And we get to give one of EACH away!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I LOVE Sauce. My kids and I were able to go and tour the factory in Bozeman this fall – they are small, take great pride in every product and everything is made RIGHT there. I picked up hats for my kids (not available online yet) and they wear them every day. You’ll notice them in most of our photos all winter long! One lucky winner is going to get ALL the following below.
Thanks so much for adventuring with us the past few months. Your photos have inspired and encourage us to get out during the cold, dark, busy holiday season so thank you!
Don’t forget you haveuntil midnight on January 5th to submit your entry form to be entered to win some of the amazing prizes that we’ve been highlighting over the past few weeks.
We’re still adventuring through the holidays and we hope you’re joining us! It’s super easy. Just pick 4 of the 7 challenges we have listed HERE, do them over the course of the next 7 weeks and then fill out the form when you’re done. Honor system and easy peasy. Then we’ll pick some winners […]
**Check here to keep up with all the giveaways for our 12 Days of Gear Giveaways Event!** AHH! Can you believe it!?!? Day 12. Not going to lie – I’m exhausted and ready for a bit of a break. BUT, I so hope you have loved all of these. I always wish I could make […]
**Check here to keep up with all the giveaways for our 12 Days of Gear Giveaways Event!** So up until this point we have been focusing heavily on GEAR for our giveaways. But, what’s an adventure without some great food?!?! Nothing. And, if you have kids (or adults) that get hangry, it’s just misery! We […]