There’s nothing like the feeling of an epic back country trip with not a soul around to get in your way of the endless powder. I love it more than anything!
And, I also love to know that I can keep warm, even when I’m not sweating as I hustle my body through a bunch of fresh snow. One of the best ways to keep warm is from the inside out, and you can totally use some herbs to make that happen!
Of course, you need to be prepared and know what you’re doing in the backcountry. Fortunately the tips I’m about to share are light and easy to pack along with your avalanche gear.
Especially the first tip!
Sleeping With A Hottie!
Take it however you want it, but I’m pretty sure we all love sleeping with a hottie. Right?!?
Anyway, this is a trick I learned way back in my days of being a wilderness therapist where I taught at-risk high school kids to live in the backcountry, under a tarp, bust fires in the middle of nowhere, and crunch their boots along deep snow under the full moonlight for weeks at a time. (ya, it was a totally bitchin job for me!)
So, back to sleeping with hotties...
You know, the kind of hottie you fill up with steaming hot water, and put into a stainless steel bottle, covered with a cozy sock or maybe your extra fleece, and then snuggle up inside of your sleeping bag. Ya, that kind of hottie, that’s what you were thinking too, right? I mean, it will totally keep you toasty through the night.
So I admit it, not only do I absolutely love playing outside, I absolutely love using plants as medicine, and to help me enjoy all of my outside adventures in a sustainable way! Yes, it’s safe to say, not only am I an outdoors woman, I’m also an herbalist!
So, it’s imperative that I share some of my favorite herbs to take with you in the backcountry.
Ginger is warming and a great circulatory stimulant. It brings blood to your fingers and toes to help keep them warm. A simple hot cup of ginger tea can work wonders to get you nice and cozy from the inside out. All you have to do is grab a bit of dried ginger rhizome from your local grocery store, preferably organic, put around 1 tsp to 1 tbl in your thermos, and pour boiling water over it. Close up your thermos and after 10 or more minutes, add some lemon or honey if that’s your jam. You can totally let it steep the whole time you’re skinning up, until you’re ready for a warm up. It’s super yum!
One of my favorite tips that I love so much when it comes to wintertime fun that doesn't require any cooking is putting a bit of cayenne pepper powder in your socks. If you’re careful and promise to wash your hands well, you could also put some in your gloves. But, please, be super cautious about the hand washing part. You don’t want to get cayenne in your eyes, your nose, or any of your other special parts, if you catch my drift. But, doing this will also help to bring more blood flow to those fingers and toes, and get you nice and warm and cozy toesies!
If earning your turns has you all achy and your muscles are sore, try out my Bobcat Balm. It’s pretty amazing when it comes to easing those aches and pains. And, it has cayenne in it, so you know it’s bringing circulation to the area as it also works to ease the pain, as well as arnica and a bunch of other really cool sore muscle, bruise healing plants.
By the way, we call it Bobcat Balm, because there are no tigers on Mount Hood, where we make it. And what’s in this stuff is significantly better for the planet than the other feline named balms out there.
Maybe you’re one of those that’s not so into the hot stuff, and prefer things a bit sweeter.
That’s where tasty and warming cinnamon comes into play. It’s a great one to warm you up from the inside out, as it’s a circulatory stimulant also and will bring blood to the extremities keeping you nice and toasty. I love to add cinnamon to teas, as well as to my morning coffee.
Need an extra cinnamon bonus? You can use it as a tooth powder or paste. It has antimicrobial properties to rid your mouth of harmful bacteria and helps to tone tissues such as your gums. So ditch the weight of the toothpaste, and bring on some cinnamon powder. Keep your taste buds happy, your teeth clean, and your core toasty!
Just want to grab something that’s warming and super tasty to pack along? Try our Tea-Line. It has the warming tasty ginger and cinnamon, plus a whole bunch of other delicious herbs.
I actually created this one for my home mountain resort, Timberline Lodge. As I created it, I wanted to bring you the refreshing sensation of slashing through fresh pow, and the warming feeling as you cozy up in that gorgeous lodge.
You can head here to get yourself some, and let me know what you think about it! And, of course, let me know how these herbs help you keep warm on your adventures!
*We Love the Mission and Sustainable Herbs available through Oshala Farms & Mountain Rose Herbs and Receive a Small Commission when you Purchase through our Affiliate Links.
*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!