Winter Solstice Night Hike

Snowshoeing in the Northeast US

Brooke, Backcountry Ambassador

I know many of you, like me, are weekend warriors. Our 8-5’s rule our day. Recreation is savored— hallowed. If we want to get out and recreate during the week, we either wake up hours before sunrise, or hurry out of work to get on the trail. In the winter, the shorter days can make this feel more difficult. This winter, my husband and I have decided to embrace the hours after dark.

The year we celebrated the Winter Solstice by snowshoeing at night. Pulling into the empty parking lot at the trailhead, we wondered if our idea was maybe a little too hair-brained. The familiar trail looked different—eerie almost. Knowing that sunrise would not be warming us anytime soon, we knew we needed to get moving quickly. Stuffing an extra layer into our packs, and securing the lids of our thermoses, we flicked on our headlamps, and headed into the dark.

Everything seems to sparkle more at night. The snow on the boughs of the trees, the stars, the surrounding mountains. Even the air is full of crystals. The crunching of the snow under our snowshoes seems to echo more loudly. John and I are hushed, and reverent.

The winter solstice is one of my favorite days of the year. I love surrendering to the quiet and the peace. I love knowing that the days will only be getting longer. It’s a beautiful combination of surrender and hope.

Tips:

  • Stick to familiar terrain; everything looks completely new and different at night.
  • Wear an extra layer and pack an extra layer or two (just in case).
  • Hot chocolate is appreciated more than ever on nights like this- pack a thermos along with the usual trail snacks.
  • Text a friend or family member to let them know which trails you will be on, and how long you expect to be.
  • Pack some extra batteries—frigid temperatures drain head-lamp batteries faster than expected.
  • If venturing into backcountry terrain, be properly educated and certified for avalanche training, and always travel with beacons and avalanche rescue gear.