Every year around December or January, I start to get antsy for the trail. Days are dark and cold and I think about, with euphoric recollection, last summer’s hike and completely forget about how hot and miserable I was. I forget about the mosquitoes and the poison oak. Foot pain, blisters, chafe, and sunburn are a distant memory. All I want to do is hike!

I have come up with come coping mechanisms over the years (I’ll be honest, most of them actually make me want to hike more). But, here are a few ideas that I think are better than just lurking on hiker Facebook pages:

1. Read Trauma and Pepper’s Blogs

Slush Fest

Trauma and Pepper are a couple of accomplished long distance hikers and ski-tourers who are thru-hiking the PCT right NOW! It is the first time that this has been attempted in the winter, and it seems miserable! This winter, whenever I miss hiking, I think about how cold, wet, and uncomfortable these guys are and I feel a little better about being home.

Trauma’s blog: http://www.justinlichter.com/

Pepper’s blog: http://shawnforry.com/

2. Create a Hikertrash Meet-Up Group in Your Town

Bend Hikertrash

Another way I get through the winter is by meeting up with other hikers. A few years ago, when I moved to Bend, OR, I put together a group on Facebook for long distance hikers in Bend. Since then, our group has grown to over 40! We meet up at least once a month for food, beer, and good conversation (once, we even went hiking). Through the various Facebook groups, you should be able to connect with people in your town who you don’t even know. It’s fun!

3. Watch Trail Movies

Watching hiking documentaries about the trail helps scratch that itch in the long winter months, too! Jester and Squatch (I like “Even More Walking”, since I am in it) make hilarious movies that highlight the various unique personalities on the trail. I really enjoyed Tell it on the Mountain, a well-done documentary about the PCT. Also, a little search on YouTube or Vimeo with the name of your favorite trail is bound to bring up something interesting.

Oh, and there is Wild and A Walk in the Woods in the movie theaters.

UPDATE: Enter to win a digital download of Tell it on the Mountain by commenting below before January 1st.

4. Catch Up on “The Trail Show” Podcasts

If you don’t know about The Trail Show podcasts, you should look them up. It’s a podcast about long distance hiking. Each free episode features a different long trail (and a beer) and they discuss hiker current events. It’s great to have on in the background while you…

5. Make Awesome Meals For Your Next Hike

This is also the time of year that I start doing projects at home. Because my world revolves around food and hiking, I often find myself putting together some yummy trail meals in the winter. I start by dehydrating cheese, meat, and sauces and ordering freeze-dried vegetables. Find some of my recipes on this blog by clicking on the “Food” category at the left.

Make them up, sample them, adjust the recipe, and package them for summer!

6. Read Trail Books

Last, but not least, get swept away in someone else’s adventures. I am reading Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail and Hikertrash: Life on the Pacific Crest Trail. Both are well-written and fun, and happen to be written by women. Or, read Trailjournals, such as mine here about the PCT!

From today on, the days get longer til summer!