Winter Adventuring After Dark

by - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winter days are short, but that's no reason to cut your outdoor playtime short! Take your children on a nighttime adventure and witness the wonder in their eyes as they take in the starry sky, lights, and silhouettes. Listen to the night sounds and smell the air. Other senses take over when it's dark.

Night skating at a local pond - we cleared the snow and brought lanterns!
Most of the activities you would do in the day are safe at night, as long as you know the area and there is ample light (use caution with skiing, skating or tobogganing). We enjoy cross country skiing, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, skating, and walking and playing in the snow, day or night. To make the most of this special time, bundle up, give each person a headlamp or flashlight, and throw some hot chocolate, marshmallows, and treats in your pack. Glow sticks are always a hit too. If you don't have snowshoes for your kids yet, check out Tubbs Snowglow Snowshoes  that light up with every step.

Night xc skiing at Confederation Park, Calgary

Safety Tips

  • Keep excursions short. Your child may be able to ski 8 km, but what if fog rolls in or snowfall becomes heavy? Will you be able to find your way home? 
  • Stick to well marked trails in familiar territory. After dark is not the time to go off trail.
  • Remember turnoffs and landmarks. A GPS unit and extra batteries can be helpful, but don't rely solely on it as batteries can die and gadgets can malfunction. 
  • Carry a cell phone, signalling device (flares, whistle, mirror), and firemaking kit. In rural areas, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a good idea. 
  • Stay off of natural ice at night! For more ice safety tips, please see this post: http://www.playoutsideguide.com/2015/11/pond-and-lake-ice-safety.html. While my poem mentions skating on a pond at night, it is a shallow pond in an urban area that is less than 2 feet deep! 
  • Take action against hypothermia and frostbite. More information here:
Night snowshoeing at Mosquito Creek, Banff National Park

Remember When

When we night skied through the park,
I wasn't afraid though it was dark.
We glided along beneath the stars
And dreamed we were explorers trav'lling far.

When we snowshoed one full moon night,
I saw stars, the moon, and Daddy's headlight,
Mountains all around and glistening trees,
And walls of snow up to Mommy's knees.

When we walked to the pond so late,
We cleared a rink so we could skate.
A curious coyote watched us there,
While our giggles filled the cool, crisp air.

When we played at night in snow so deep,
Because we did not want to sleep,
With toques on our heads and cocoa in our tummies,
We knew we had the best Daddy and Mommy. 

Use glowsticks, a flashlight, or lantern to make a Magic Glow Mountain
Night skiing at Canada Olympic Park
What winter night activities do you enjoy?

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