Chionophobia is the fear of snow and frigophobia is the fear of the cold. There you have it. I just diagnosed myself using the Internet. I’m pretty sure I suffer from both conditions. I don’t like winter. If winter were like a tropical beach, we would be best friends. But we’re not even buddies. For many years I did my best to avoid all things winter. Whether it was trips to tropical destinations or running from one heated location to the next heated location, I was pretty good at avoiding Old Man Winter. Somewhere along the line, it was suggested that if I learned to embrace winter with some Alberta hikes and outdoor activities, I might discover some of the benefits of the season we call winter. Read on to discover some of the benefits of getting out and attempting to embrace our longest season of the year.
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Health Benefits of Alberta Hikes and Outdoor Activities
Many people suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People suffering with SAD feel a lack of energy and feelings of moodiness. It often begins in late fall and continues through the winter months. One of the treatments of SAD is phototherapy: sitting in front of a special light the mimics the sun. I have to admit that when I venture out on Alberta hikes and outdoor activities in the winter months I feel energized afterwards. I may complain a little, maybe even a lot, but I always feel better afterwards. This is likely due to the positive effects of natural sunlight.
Being outside in winter can help you burn calories. You can sleep better, and it can help you fight infections and improve allergies. It may even improve brain function to name just a few other reasons to venture out into the winter air.
Ice Ice Baby
Water is beautiful in the liquid state but water is also beautiful in its solid state. When you see a waterfall that is frozen the colors can be beyond description. No photograph can truly do justice to a frozen waterfall.
Some of the best Alberta hikes lead to frozen waterfalls. Not only are frozen falls beautiful but they change everyday. Chunks of ice break away and new shards of ice form as the temperatures change from cold to colder.
You don’t have to find a river to find a waterfall. Ice flows coming out of the side of mountains are amazing and if you are really ambitious, you can attempt to climb these sheets of ice. This activity should only be attempted with proper training and equipment. If you look carefully at the image above, you can find an ice climber scaling this ice falls.
Note: For winter hiking or ice walking, you’ll want to wear ice cleats. It really makes all the difference. You can get good ice cleats for about $30 that will last you for many hikes.
Related: Read our product review of inexpensive Canadian Tire ice cleats.
Great Opportunity to be Social
Winter often makes people be a little less social. Alberta hikes with good friends help you connect on a personal level. It also gives you great content to post to your favorite social media account.
Being outside on a cold day also provides a great opportunity to cuddle up to a significant other.
Guided Alberta hikes or even better yet, a canyon ice walk can help you see a canyon in a completely new light. In the summer we view Maligne Canyon from above but in the winter you can see and experience it from the floor of the canyon. It gives you a completely different perspective.
Related: Read our post about Johnston Canyon and the Inkpots, one of our favorite winter hikes.
Other Winter Activities
If you are like me, a sleigh ride is a great way to get the benefits of being outdoors without feeling the full effects of the cold. With my winter gear on and a warm blanket to snuggle under, I almost feel invincible.
Skating allows you to glide effortlessly along the ice. It is great exercise and also allows for fresh winter air to full your lungs.
Skiing, whether cross-country or down hill is another great way to get exercise. Gliding through the snow is a wonderful feeling. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, you are sure to experience it with skis attached to your feet.
A leisurely walk with a pair of snow shoes and your camera can provide some physical activity while capturing the beauty of a snowy landscape.
Unique Winter Activities
When I was a young boy, I knew better than to ride my bike in the winter, but then again, we did not have fat bikes in the olden days. A fat bike is like the SUV of the automotive industry. They are made for winter conditions and I actually felt like a 57 year old rebel as I mounted my fat bike for a ride in the mountains.
A really unique winter activity is to enjoy the beauty of the methane bubbles trapped in the ice of Abraham Lake. As bacteria in the bottom of the lake decompose matter, they release methane which rises and gets trapped in the ice. Be sure to be safe when walking on ice and you will enjoy one of Mother Nature’s truly amazing sights and one of winter’s best Alberta hikes.
If you are fortunate, you might see winter sights before the water freezes. The first heavy snow and frost at Maligne Lake in Jasper is a great way to experience winter and to capture some beautiful pictures as well.
After enjoying Alberta hikes and outdoor activities, you can sit back and relax in a comfortable chair with a great view. Breathing in some cool clean winter air can also help you avoid the winter blues. I have found that embracing Old Man Winter has made him more of a friend and less of a foe. Maybe you will find the same!
Related: Read our post, Jasper in Winter – 12 Sunning Photos.