Frozen Luggage (Digital) 2022.
Our world froze this week. It was spectacular — and yet another reminder that it’s time to travel again.
A powerful polar vortex brought record-low temperatures to much of the United States. Denver saw its coldest air in a generation on Thursday when temperatures plunged to minus 24 degrees, the coldest since 1990.
In Cheyenne, Wyoming, temperatures fell by 40 degrees in a half-hour, shattering the city’s record for its largest temperature drop.
To which I say: Pack your bags.
The “experts” will tell you to stay indoors. But what do they know? This is the perfect time to go out and explore, as long as you can do it safely. The world has been turned into a winter wonderland. You may not see anything like this in a generation — or ever.
Why I travel in the winter
I caught my first glimpse of a winter wilderness earlier this month when I was staying at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, Switzerland. It was the day before the ski resort opened and I found a way to get to the top of the mountain and look around.
Here’s what I saw.
The slopes of Arosa ski resort near Chur, Switzerland, in early December 2022.
I was alone in this desolate frozen landscape. A fresh blanket of snow covered the Alps. Shimmering icicles hung from the rooftops of the empty warming huts, waiting for the first skiers to arrive. There’s something deeply intriguing about this place — the way it glistens in the late morning sun and how the sound is muted by the new snow.
Winter snowscapes don’t stay deserted for long. Here’s the view from our house in Sedona, Ariz. — the last place we lived in the United States. When snow falls on the red rocks, it is like catnip for hikers. But if you have to get up at 4 a.m. to do TV interviews on the East Coast like I do, you’ll get a picture like this from your driveway.
A rare dusting of snow on Capitol Butte in Sedona, Ariz., in 2020.
The dead of winter allows us to see the world as never before. Snow reflecting in the sun and against the darkness of the winter sky. To see the contrasts between light and dark, like an Ansel Adams photo in a museum.
To experience true winter, you have to get away from everyone. This was the sub-zero wetlands at dusk in Gunnison National Forest near Crested Butte, Colo. We were cross-country skiing to a hut for dinner, and it was well below zero. I had good directions — getting lost would have been deadly.
Cross-country skiing at dusk in Crested Butte, Colo., in 2018.
But as is so often the case, where there is danger there is also beauty. Your breath condensing in the frozen air. The way the snow becomes almost almost blue in the twilight. …….