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Have Your Way with Winter

No Need to Hide. Embrace the Season!

By Kay Owen

Are you keeping up with the winter weather news?

Initially, the weather prognosticators predicted a colder than normal winter. And more snow than normal. That prediction just might be true because we had some light snow in early November this year.

For some of us who prefer cold weather over hot, a chilly forecast is good news! I suspect that for many, this is not the case!

The recent warm snap may have some rethinking those early predictions. Anticipating weather patterns in western Pennsylvania is never easy. But, one thing is certain: Winter isn't over folks. And, we've got to figure out how to live with it.

Winter Options

If you don’t like the cold and snow, what options do you have?

One option is to move where the climate and weather is more to your liking.

I know many who flock to Florida or migrate to New Mexico. Some even go to North Carolina. And they are deliriously happy there for a couple to several months of the year.

Another option is to hibernate.

Park your car from November to March. Hole up inside your home and make it your cozy nest for the cold months. Read a lot of books, eat comfort food, watch a lot of movies, binge on sports. Maybe play some board games or do jig saw puzzles.

Spend time on the Internet, Face Book, Instagram, and Pinterest. Invite some other like-minded people over for a Winter Blahs Party.

According to British poet Edith Sitwell, “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: It is the time for home.”

However if relocating or hibernating aren't appealing or possible, there is a third option! Change your attitude and behavior about winter.

EMBRACE WINTER! Now, don’t stop reading because you think this is impossible! Read on, please.

Change perspectives

The first thing you have to do is look at weather differently. There is no good or bad weather. The weather simply IS. It is our attitude that makes it into good or bad. Here are some things I have observed in my travels.

In Vancouver where it was misty and rainy, I saw all kinds of people out enjoying the outdoors. There were people jogging, strolling and families with children in carriages. And remember when you were a child, you would beg your parents to be allowed to go out and play in the rain?!! Now we tend to hustle inside when it rains or think we can’t do outdoor things if it’s not sunny.

In Colorado, people want snow so they can ski. When it starts to snow, they hop in their cars and head for the mountains. Around here, if snow is predicted, we head to the grocery store for milk, bread and toilet paper. What a difference!

In Minnesota where it gets really cold and winter lasts a long time, people do winter sports like skiing, snow shoeing, playing hockey, and ice fishing. They don’t hibernate for months.

So, accept the weather as a natural phenomenon and enjoy whatever is out there on any given day.

Dress the part

The second thing you need to do is dress appropriately.

In today’s world, there is clothing for every kind of weather. There are all kinds of new fabrics that keep you warm and dry.

Remember the days of childhood when you had to get bundled up in layers to go outside. By the time you were bundled up, you were like a stuffed sausage and moving around was a bit cumbersome.

Not today! You can don athletic clothes, look sharp, stay warm and dry, and have great mobility.

Take a hike

The third thing to embracing winter is to have winter activities. I love winter hiking. Walking in the winter is invigorating. There is nothing like going outside in the cold, starting to walk and warming up. Feeling a bit cold and coming inside for a hot chocolate or cup of soup is mighty fine, too. Maybe it is the contrast that is so appealing.

Edwin Way Teale, author and naturalist writes of winter beauty; “the fairyland scenes of soft snow mantling the branches of trees and bushes, the delicate beauty of the frost, the glitter of icicles in the moonlight, the play of pastel colors over the fields of snow as the sunset dies.”

Doesn’t that make you want to get outside? Recently my husband and I did some hikes that we enjoyed: The Baker Trail and the North Country Trail. You might want to venture out on these hikes. Both trails are well marked and well maintained. Both are within an easy-to-reach distance.

The Baker Trail

The Baker Trail runs from Freeport to Cook Forest. It is described as a 133-mile hiking and backpacking trail in western Pennsylvania.

We did the Covered Bridge Picnic hike that is listed under Suggested Hikes in A Hiker’s Guide to the Baker Trail. We started at Crooked Creek overlooking the dam. We hiked around the dam to the Covered Bridge over by Cochran’s Mills. Yes, there is a covered bridge on that trail!

Round trip, this hike was 5 miles. Note: We purchased our trail guide at the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau. Information about the Baker Tail may also be obtained from the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy at

The North Country Trail

The North Country Trail runs from North Dakota to New York, is 4600 miles and is the longest footpath in the United States. It crosses seven northern states and is maintained by hundreds of volunteers.

In a brochure from the North Country Tail Association, it states, “The trail can be rugged and remote or nearby and easy. But it always welcomes you, beckoning you to find your own adventure.” Doesn’t that sound welcoming?

We started at the trailhead off of Route 322 just outside Clarion. We hiked north toward Cook Forest. The trail wound through deciduous forests along Doe Run. Very scenic! For more information about the North County Trail, go to

The Armstrong Trail

Another great hike is the Armstrong Trail, the rail trail that runs along the Allegheny River primarily in Armstrong County.

One of my favorite places to hike or bicycle is Lock 8 to Templeton. On this hike you are likely to see bald eagles. And you will definitely see a beaver dam.

On this part of the trail, there is also a Little Library with some benches. It's a nice, quiet spot for rest and reflection. You can even take a book and/or leave a book in the Little Library. Be sure to write an entry in the log book. And, it’s fun to read the entries left by previous hikers. For information about the Armstrong Trail, contact Maps and User Guides may also be obtained from the Allegheny Valley Land Trust in Kittanning.

Final Thoughts

When I was the Coordinator for HEALTHY Armstrong, I encouraged people to GET OUTSIDE FOR THE HEALTH OF IT. I still encourage that, especially in the winter. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Each moment of the year has its own beauty.”

Explore! Embrace Winter!

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” -Mary Davis

From left, Steve & Kay Owen with Louise Baker & Dick Starr on the Armstrong Trail during the 3rd Annual First Hike January 1, 2020.

Kay Detrick Owen, in her working days, was the Executive Director of ARC Manor Addiction Recovery Center; Project Coordinator for HEALTHY  Armstrong; and, Development Director for the YMCA.  Since retirement, Kay is a hospice volunteer and Co-Chair of the Outreach Committee at Grace Presbyterian Church.  For fun, Kay hikes, kayaks and bicycles. 

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