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There’s something magical about skiing or snowshoeing on moonlit trails. It might be the way the snow seems to glow as it reflects the moonlight or just the contrast between the white snow and deep dark shadows dancing in the woods. Whatever it is, I love it.

My husband and I try not to let a full moon in the winter pass by without enjoying its beauty from the trails. Sometimes we get a babysitter, load our backcountry skis into the car and call it a cheap date night. Other times we bundle up the kids, feast on cookies and hot chocolate and keep them up past their bedtimes enjoying a full moon ski as a family.

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Here are a few tips to make moonlit adventures memorable.

  • If you’re bringing along children start out before the sun sets  to make gearing up at the trailhead easier. While you can drag skis from the car to the trails, and strap kids into skis or snowshoes or assemble sleds and ski trailers in the dark under the glow of a headlamp it’s just easier to do it before the sun sets. There’s also a good chance that babies and toddlers will fall asleep, so we like to dress ours in their pajamas underneath their snowsuits to make the transition from trails, to carseat to bed easier.
  • Bring headlamps but don’t use them! Headlamps are great to double check a map, assemble gear at a trailhead or use during an emergency but they can really distort your night vision. We like to wear our headlamps but turn them off when we’re skiing or snowshoeing to enjoy the full experience. If you’re pulling toddlers in a ski trailer or sled crack a glowstick so they can see what’s going on.
  • Stick to trails that you know and are comfortable exploring during daylight. We love to find new trails but skiing or snowshoeing at night does add an element of risk, especially on unfamiliar terrain. No one likes to be surprised by a gnarly turn at the bottom of a steep  downhill or big rock sticking out of the snow.
  • Turn a full moon adventure into a feast by bringing along tools to make a small campfire and cooking dinner or s’mores over the open coals. Or, take full advantage over the full moon by going winter camping. A full moon is also the perfect time to stay in a yurt and watch the moon all night long.
  • Leave a thermos of hot water in your car at the trailhead or bring along a jetboil and fix a mug of cider, tea or hot chocolate for the ride home.

I’m convinced that there’s no better way to enjoy a full moon than on the trails.

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