A cross-country skier glides across Yellowstone National Park's backcountry on an eight-day Sierra Club outing. Highlights include the insights of a former interpretive ranger, group frolicking (below), and alone time with Old Faithful.
|Does any natural substance cause such disparate human responses as snow? Maybe the reason it can make mundane moments wondrous is that misery is never far away. The simple sensations of air pumping through lungs and blood through muscles seem transcendent when the ever-present alternative is spasmodic shivering. So while many animals curl up in their dens and vegetate until spring, a subspecies of human charges into winter headlong. To understand this behavior, Sierra sent writers to cold, white landscapes from New England to the Pacific Northwest. Go figure: They all had a blast.
How to climb a waterfall.
When mushing gets mushy.
A family falls for chilly adventure.
Why vroom when you can shoosh?
Squeeze into a Michigan ice cave.
Winter Action Wear: Warm, non-cotton clothes are essential: wicking internal layers; several fleece and wool middle layers; and a waterproof, breathable, windproof shell. You'll also need winter boots rated for low temperatures, plus wool socks, windproof fleece gloves and warm mittens, a hat and balaclava, sunglasses, and a headlamp for morning and evening excursions. Tip: Your clothes may get covered with dog drool or be shredded by an errant ice ax, so functionality definitely trumps fashion.