What To Do Outside This December
Even if there's no snow on the ground ☹️
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We recently found a little snow at the Blackshale Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were enjoying stellar early season cross-country and downhill ski conditions in and around Calgary, but it’s the complete opposite this year.
The current lack of snow in Calgary and the Rockies is making our favourite winter activities difficult. Instead of skiing, we’ve been sitting on patios and enjoying temperatures above 10 degrees Celsius in the middle of November. While we’re hoping for lots of snow soon, it’s already looking like it may be a warmer than normal winter.
And so, instead of our usual early Winter pep talk about how great snow and cold are, or info on where to ski, we bring you a list of ways to enjoy the outdoors this December — whether there’s snow on the ground or not.
Have a Fire Outside
While last year’s plans for a mid-December Winter Solstice fire with friends were thwarted by a cold snap that had temperatures hovering around -25 Degrees Celsius, we’re already scheming for this year’s celebration.
There’s something so wonderful about gathering around a warm fire with loved ones throughout the year, but especially in the colder months.
If you’re in Calgary and don’t have access to a yard or fire pit of your own, there are several bookable and drop-in fire pit options at City Parks. The Rise, a manmade nine-metre high grassy hill on St. Patrick’s Island, is also worth checking out. The hill features a large fire pit at the top with city views, and the hill is the perfect spot for daytime tobogganing when snow covered.
Go For a Christmas Light Walk
Thank you, thank you, thank you to any of you have Christmas lights up. Even a simple single string of lights on a balcony or porch. Thank you! While I (Annalise) haven’t previously cared much about Christmas lights, this year I have a two-year-old and he is obsessed. We go for nightly walks to admire our neighbours’ light creations (like the one pictured above) and the knowledge he’ll see a few Christmas lights on the bike to daycare helps get him out the door in the mornings.
We’re planning to check out some free light exhibits beyond our own neighbourhood and so far our list includes:
Legacy’s Christmas Light Display, on from December 1 to January 14, in the neighbourhood of Legacy, and
Lion’s Festival of Lights, on from November 25th to January 8th, in Confederation Park
Even if you don’t have little ones, it’s worth wandering your neighbourhood at night and checking out the lights.
Learn Something New
Whether it’s finally mastering layering in cold weather, learning how to cook the perfect s’more or something more ambitious like a new winter sport or trying a night at a winter hut, we highly encourage you to learn something new this winter!
Some of our winter highlights from years past have been courses we’ve taken, including Avalanche Skills Training (AST) 1 and 2 and Crevasse Rescue for our backcountry adventures and last year’s Friday morning downhill ski lessons at Lake Louise, which served as a weekly opportunity to try some jumps we’d normally be terrified of.
The things you’ll learn in a course will serve you for years to come, and if courses aren’t your cup of tea, there’s plenty of information available via books, the internet and groups like the Alpine Club of Canada.
What are you planning to do outside this December? Let us know in the comments below or in our Group Chat on the Substack App.
⛰️🥾️ Go Outside is written by Annalise & Cailynn — writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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