Why to hike in winter?

Why to hike in winter?

I got asked the hard question: “Why? Why do you want to go out and hike in winter?” That’s a good question! I’ve hiked and camped during Spring, Summer, and Autumn, and I enjoy it a lot. Why should I limit myself to only three seasons instead of four? Winter hiking for sure requires more from the hiker than the other seasons, but that’s just a challenge to be tackled. To be able to answer the question, I first have to answer the question “Why do you want to hike?”, and then try to answer the winter-part of the question.

Koli, Finland's national landscape
Koli, Finland’s national landscape

Why do I hike?

I find hiking giving distance and perspective, and I love the nature, views, stripped down environment (from human-built things) and the lack of electronics. Lackness of things triggers my brain and thoughts; the wilderness gives me time to think and my mind to wonder.

State of mind

Recently I read Steven Kotler’s and Jamie Wheal’s book ‘Stealing Fire’ and learned a new word to describe my hiking experiences: ecstasy. I find myself entering a flow or extasy-states much more often while hiking than while I’m working or doing any other activity. (Well maybe gaming, but let’s not go there). I feel focused while I’m all the time alert physically and mentally.


All the times I go to the woods, alone or with someone, I’m sure to experience the whole spectrum of emotions; from fear to anger, sadness to joy, anticipation to surprise and from disgust to trust. This is enriching to me. I feel my life being more complete when I can observe my emotions freely, express and let them milden.

The equipment

Oh, dear, do I like the gear. My inner materialistic engineer has been awoken by this guest! Planning and reading about different equipment and why it works or doesn’t is satisfying. I browse through a stockpile of reviews and then try to fit the information to my scenarios and see how my gear could handle the same circumstances.

Challenging myself

If you ask what I enjoy or hold dear in my life, learning will come out high up in the list. That’s what hiking – especially winter hiking – means to me; getting out of my comfort zone and learning. There is an endless amount of mysteries to be discovered and tricks to be learned in nature. Hiking is following a path through those mysteries, learning the skills and feeling accomplished when arriving at the destination.

Trail to why I hike

Why do I consider hiking in winter?

After researching winter hiking for a couple of weeks, I realise how much more demanding and work requiring winter hiking is compared to any of the other three seasons. But how I look at it, is that the work and the requirements work as an amplifier: all the emotions, distance, perspective, learnings and out of the comfort zone experiences are that much stronger.

Hah, I keep smiling when I think back two weeks when my first realisations were: “All my water is going to freeze and what do I do about the wolves .” This is the most I’ve poured energy to a particular thing for a while. I’m excited, scared and very much looking forward to this trip, knowing I’ll come back more whole I was before.

That’s the short answer to ‘why’. Now let’s get back to ‘how‘.

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