How to Survive Your First Northern Michigan Winter

When a new staff member joined our team at MyNorth Media from Florida recently, a few chuckles could be heard amongst us when she shared her concerns for the snow. And our chuckles turned to concern once we realized that she truly needed our help! So this list is dedicated to Marilyn (pictured above) and all other new Northern Michiganders experiencing their first Northern Michigan winter this season.

Here are tips from MyNorth Media staff on how to survive your first Northern Michigan winter, based on Marilyn’s top concerns about our cold climate: The ice, getting sick, staying warm, and getting outside.


What To Do About All The Ice

Unless you are with an experienced ice fisherman, don’t go out on frozen lakes. And those beautiful Lake Michigan ice caves? Even though half the world went out on them two winters ago, I still don’t trust them. Many years ago I watched two girls get rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter from a piece of ice that calved off a cave. Yep, they had to climb that rope up, up, up over that icy water. — Lissa Edwards

The folks at Marathon have the best reputation for exceptional snow tires. I got #2, an all-season tire. — Rachel North

Take a small old duffle bag and stock it with items for “just in case” you get stuck in a ditch, then stuff it in the truck of your car. Battery powered phone charger, spare gloves, road map, flashlight, nonperishable snacks, and hand warmers may come in handy one day. Fingers crossed they won’t, but knowing you have that backup safety bag will ease your mind on snowy drives. — Courtney Jerome

Worries About Getting Sick

I am not sure if there is science behind it or not–but it seems like the more I get outside in winter the less I get sick. — Lissa Edwards

I try to load up on antioxidants. It seems obvious, but the cooler months can make it easy to stray from fruits and veggies. Sweet potatoes are my favorite–who says carbs can’t be a little healthy? Spinach is another good one, and you can easily add it to any meal whether it’s a sandwich, pasta dish, pancakes (yep, even pancakes, Google it). — Carly Simpson

How To Stay Warm

My brother, an outdoor expert and winter camper, always said, “If your feet are cold, put on a hat!” He also introduced me to Smartwool and Point 6 socks. So he covered both extremes (please forgive the pun). — Rachel North

Go out and purchase a really cute pair of boots. A pair that you will look forward to wearing. If you have boots you want to wear, you’ll go out to enjoy the Northern Michigan outdoors more. And don’t forget to make sure they’re waterproof and insulated! Throw in matching gloves and a hat from Baabaazuzu and you’ll be ready to roam downtown streets and backwoods trails. — Courtney Jerome

A warm mug of espresso or hot cocoa (or both!) makes the cold a lot more bearable, especially in the morning when your feet hit the freezing floor. Add cinnamon to your cup to spice things up and sneak in a few antioxidants. — Carly Simpson

Go with the tried and true method of layering. There’s lots on the web about this strategy, but it’s basically dressing in multiple breathable layers of clothing. A go-to system would be a layer of long underwear, a fleece and an outer shell. It helps keep you dry if you are active and allows you to regulate your clothing to your activity–shed a layer as you heat up; put layers on when you stop to rest so you don’t chill. I think an important point here is to really listen to your body and do what it needs. There’s never a reason to be cold in winter. Clothing today is so well engineered that it will keep you warm. — Jeff Smith

Why Getting Outside is Important

I believe that adopting a winter sport keeps you from getting sick and produces endorphins. You are exposed to more sunlight (anti SADD), are in better shape to fight off bugs, and I think the cold air kills some of the bugs. Plus, it changes winter from, “4 weeks until spring” to “only 4 more weeks to ski,” or snowshoe or whatever. — Rachel North

I tell people that to THRIVE in winter, not just SURVIVE in winter, you have to get outside a lot—essential. If nothing else, take a half-hour walk during lunch to get you through the week and then get outside for longer periods of skiing and snowshoeing on the weekend. A key point here: it always looks colder outside than what it really is. Northern Michigan is really not that cold relative to a place like, say, Minnesota, so you can pretty easily dress in a way that will keep you warm and comfortable and enjoying yourself outside. When I think of peak moments in my year, moments when I really feel fresh and alive, so many of them are in the winter during beautiful days of outdoor exploration. I hope you discover this wonderful feeling too. — Jeff Smith

By the way, love Marilyn’s MyNorth hat pictured above?
Get your own at ShopMyNorth.com!


More Northern Michigan Outdoors

#2016 #Up_North #Outdoors #Style #Live_Here

Article Comments

  • Great ideas! Don’t escape it. Embrace it!

  • Brittny Rubin

    Love this! As someone who is moving from Florida to Northern Michigan its great to see that other Floridians have made this journey as well. Great advice as I am sure our first winter will be seriously cold lol.