Opt Outside: Staying sane during Wyoming winters (with apologies to REI)

The days are getting shorter, colder, and windier, which means one thing: people are headed inside. And as a reformed outdoor enthusiast who once spent entire childhood winters cursing the wind-driven snow and wishing I was somewhere tropical, I’m fighting this obligate hibernation.

Why? Because getting outside and embracing the famous Wyoming wind is the ticket to staying sane this winter. I promise.

The tales are true: winter in this great state usually lasts 9 months out of the year, and staying indoors for that entire time can lead to side effects such as drowsiness, cabin fever, stress, isolation, and hallucinations of tropical islands. The good news? There is a cure, even if it sounds contradictory: end your hibernation and get outdoors.

In Laramie, we are surrounded by wilderness that is a veritable gold mine for outdoor activities in all seasons. The area is renowned for summer activities, but plays double-duty during winter: Lakes freeze over and fly fishing is swiftly replaced with ice fishing. Trails designed for summer hiking, biking, and running transform into snowy winter cross-country ski, fat bike, and snowshoe trails. Alpine ski areas open for downhill ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Looking for a mix of cross country and alpine skiing? Link up with someone who’s heading up on Centennial Ridge on a ski touring mission. The outdoors community in Laramie is extensive, and you’re bound to find classmates and friends who are more than willing to pull you out of winter hibernation and introduce you to the great outdoors.

When you opt outside this Wyoming winter, you’ll begin to value the beauty of the season: the spray of fresh powder on your face as you make your first turns, the stillness of the snowy woods on snowshoe, and the great sense of peace that can only be found outside. It’s an excellent way to escape late-semester chaos, take a breather, and meditate on why you love what you’re studying away from the stress of assignments and exams. And not only that, you’ll also remember why you moved to such a delightfully desolate, snowy wilderness. It’s truly a win-win, kill-two-pigeons-with-one-stone situation: Venturing into the outdoors can vanquish both cabin fever and anxiety about class in one snowy swoop.

I invite you to opt outside this Wyoming winter—only you can turn Hoth into your own winter wonderland! I wish you well in your late-semester endeavors, UW, and hope to see you hitting the ski trails or linking turns in blower powder this winter!

Emma Rovani

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