Getting Out in Wintertime Weather

Michael Moore

There’s a saying I came across years ago that always comes to mind as winter settles in on us here in Pocahontas County – “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  I was reminded of this just a few days ago on the drive home from work.  We experienced a significant temperature drop during the day.  Consequently, this caused the inside of my truck to feel like a freezer and made the evening drive home much colder than the morning drive just eight hours earlier. 

Now, full confession, I can be a bit of a procrastinator.  Procrastination is a trait I’m not proud of. Somewhere along the line, I’ve allowed procrastination to knock on my front door, invite himself in, and remain as an unwanted house guest for far too long.  But no longer.  I’ve decided today is the day to do something about it, or tomorrow for sure.  But because I currently still tend to procrastinate, I had put off placing a few winter essentials in my truck; warm gloves being one of those essentials.  So, on the day our local temperature took a nose dive, I found myself driving home gloveless.  And while the heating system of my truck is in perfect working order, and the steering wheel is somewhat padded, it nevertheless felt very much like I was holding a pair of icicles for the entirety of the trip home.  That’s when the aforementioned saying came to mind, and it dawned on me.  It wasn’t that the weather was necessarily bad (it’s supposed to be cold in January after all), I just simply wasn’t prepared for it.      

The more I thought about this, the more I began to ask myself how many of us choose to stay indoors during cold weather due to, well, the cold weather.  Of course this question doesn’t enter into the thinking of folks like skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobile riders.  These hardy, winter sports enthusiasts live to get out in the cold when people like me are content to roll over in bed, grab another blanket, and declare it’s far too cold to even consider going outside.  But what if I, and people like me, geared up and got out more, and intentionally, in the wintertime despite the cold weather misgivings?  And no, just getting out long enough to scrape and defrosted the windshield doesn’t count.  I’m talking about getting out to the parks and trails that cover Pocahontas County.  Getting out and spending time in the woods while fresh, falling snow is blanketing the forest floor.  This line of thought has caused me to determine a cold weather excursion does not need to be seen as test of stamina and survival skills; a traumatic experience to be endured.  Instead, why not look at winter as an opportunity to get out and visit some of my favorite places in Nature’s Mountain Playground and possibly see them in a way I’ve never seen them before?  With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways and places to get back outside during winter. 

With five state parks and two state forests within Nature’s Mountain Playground as well as one-third of the Monongahela National Forest residing within Pocahontas County, we have the largest concentration of public lands in West Virginia.  Just within the portion of the Monongahela National Forest that calls our county home, visitors have access to more than 300,000 acres and over 500 miles of trails; that’s more than enough room to get out and explore the beauty of Pocahontas County in the wintertime.  And don’t forget popular places like Watoga State Park and Seneca State forest.  With over 30 trails between the two and rugged mountain scenery shared by both, you’re bound to find at least one or two wintertime hikes well worth braving the cold weather for.  Remote trails, frozen streams, and iced-over lakes are all waiting to be discovered by those willing to bundle up and get out there.  It may be as simple as a change of mind set and remembering that hibernation is for bears not people.

Now, if you’re open to adding some additional gear to your outdoor, wintertime activities, and possibly picking up a new hobby, you might consider a snowshoe or cross-country skiing outing on the Greenbrier River Trail.  A former 78-mile-long railroad line converted to a hiking/biking trail, the Greenbrier River Trail is a perfect place (as long as Mother Nature provides the snow) to give cross-country skiing or snowshoeing a try.  And of course, at a one percent grade, the trail is perfect for winter hikes as well.  The Greenbrier River Trail will take you through some of the most secluded and beautiful parts of Pocahontas County.    

If remote winter wonderlands bring about a little hesitant on your part and you’d rather be closer to “civilization” and a few of the warmer, creature comforts of life, why not consider a visit to Snowshoe Mountain Resort.  Even if you’re not a skier, a stroll through Snowshoe’s Village is a great way to take in stunning, wintertime mountaintop views while still being within walking distance of an indoor fireplace and hot beverage.  Bundle up for an afternoon of high-altitude sun and shimmering snow without being too far from a hot meal and warm fireplace.  In my book, that’s not a bad introduction to getting out more during the winter months.   

With a few simple additions to your winter clothing, getting outdoors when the snow is falling is a great way to see and experience Pocahontas County in, what may be for many folks, a whole new way.  With a few basics like boots, hats, gloves, a good coat, and even snow pants, there’s no reason those of us who lean toward hibernation this time of year can’t get outside and enjoy the trails and beautiful scenery winter has to offer.  So why not give it a try?  Nature’s Mountain Playground has more than enough room to get outside and explore, play, and just enjoy the beauty of a snow-filled day.