Are you daydreaming about warmer weather? The deep green of the trees along the river? Maybe the way the Rappahannock River feels on your toes as you dangle them over the edge of a boat or tube? Us too! We know many people love to paddle, SUP, tube, wade, rock hop, and lounge around the river, but most of us aren’t interested in spending A LOT of money on the gear that will keep those toes from getting frostbite while playing in the cold water.
Friends of the Rappahannock staff are here to share how we stay active and outdoors as much as possible during the winter months. Whether you are a river lounger or an extreme paddler, hopefully you feel inspired to try something new this winter on the Rappahannock!
A Little Lighter, But Not Quite a Lounge
By now, we all probably know that it is recommended that we are active at least 30 minutes a day for our mental and physical health. It is hard to argue with the Mayo Clinic! And have you seen our reel on instagram? We don’t really think walking is stupid, in fact, most of our staff love to wander around outside.
Light to moderate hiking or walking is an amazing way to soak up some much needed sunshine and look for winter birds, animal tracks, and other wildly cool nature finds. The best winter birding is actually on the water! Check out the river or nearby ponds for ducks, geese, mergansers, and loons that spend their summers in the Northern U.S. and Canada.
For walking, jogging, and bicycling trails around the Fredericksburg area, check out the Quarry Trail System and Rappahannock Heritage River Trail and Canal Path Loop. Throughout Virginia, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trails maps are another great resource for getting outside this winter.
A few of FOR’s staff are a bit extreme when it comes to staying active, fit, and ready to embrace warmer days with full force. Some take an at home gym approach to staying active and get their sunshine and nature by going on hikes with elevation changes! For a full body workout grab some hiking poles and check out AllTrails for a hike near you! The app has difficulty ratings to help you choose the trail that gets your heart pumping the most.
Other staff members recommend hopping on a row machine or swimming to engage the same muscle groups you would use while you are paddling. Bonus points if you can find a WaterRower! The gentle whoosh of the water can trick you into feeling like you are actually paddling! Not really sure how you feel about swimming? The U.S. Masters Swimming website has workouts and practice information even for beginners.
On the other hand, if you don’t shy away from cold water and are ready to take a purchasing plunge, we recommend reaching out to your local outfitters for advice and opportunities to go out with experienced winter paddlers. The Rappahannock Area Paddlers facebook group is a great resource for you to explore!
Whatever you choose, we hope you stay engaged with nature and the people you love. Before long we will shred the rapids and paddle the flat waters in temperatures that do not generate goosebumps.
Written by Education Managers Nancy Stalik and April Harper