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Together, Apart, Outside

How Outdoor Adventures Prepared Us to Brave the Cold and Be Together

With a little planning, socializing this winter can be a “yes” thanks to our favorite place: the outdoors. Chances are, you already all have the tools you need to comfortably and safely get together with your friends while staying safe. Here are five ways to get together (while staying apart) this winter.

1. Plan your own relay. For many of us, COVID meant our races got cancelled. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive. Grab some friends and plan a relay route around town. Spice things up by adding challenges along the way. Who can drink the most hot chocolate in a minute after mile 4? Get your non-running buddies involved by inviting them to participate as sweepers. Give them CLIF bars to hand out (throw at) participants. Gentle heckling is also encouraged. You could also get a team together and  participate in a virtual race.

2. Après around a fire. There’s just something special about companionship and a warm fire—especially in the winter. With a few minor adjustments, you can make après around a fire a great option for being safe and social.

Set chairs at least six feet apart, have everyone pack up their favorite après beverage, (one of our favorites is this Basin & Sage cocktail), and enjoy the warmth of a crackling fire and friends while staying in your bubble

3. Hit the ski hill. From socially distanced tailgate drinks to masking up on the lifts, skiing and snowboarding is a great way to spend time with people while remaining safe.

Hitting the resort has been a bit more complex this season, but with new resort policies in place this is still a great way to enjoy the outdoors—check out our article on staying safe at the resort for tips and info on new policies before you head out.

4. Go stargazing. If you’re like most people, you might not be able to recognize more than a couple constellations in the night sky. If you can, good for you. If you can’t, there are plenty of apps that can help you identify constellations beyond the Big Dipper—try Star Walk 2 and SkySafari. Get a group of friends together to meet up at a park or someone’s backyard, set up camp chairs at a safe distance, and look up. If you and your friends are astronomical amateurs, have each person pick a different constellation to spot. 

5. Clean up a favorite trail. Local trails have seen an increase in use since many of us are relying on the outdoors more than ever for exercise and peace of mind. Unfortunately, more traffic often means more trash and dog poop. A great way to say “thank you” to our favorite local trails is to organize a cleanup, even if your local trails are snow-packed right now.  Make it a competition to see who can collect the most garbage over a specific stretch of trail. Alternatively, reach out to your local trails organization and sign up as a volunteer for trail-building activities that kick off this spring.

Claire Schraidt is a freshwater ecologist and outdoor enthusiast currently based in Indiana. Outside of wrestling fish for science, Claire enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and sleeping outside whenever possible.