Winter Preparations

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Winter is a very tranquil time for a retreat at the Close. The rustling of the leaves have long gone, just the sound of the breeze whooshing through the evergreen boughs. The roar of the river nestled in the gorge is more prevalent and soothing to hear. The air is dryer, there is no buzzing of insects, there are open views into the Rockcastle River gorge and extended views into the surrounding Cumberland Plateau.

The weather is ideal for both indoor and outdoor activities. Daytime temperatures range from the 20s to the 50s and average around 40. Night time temps, however, can fall into the single digits but generally stay in the 20s. Precipitation usually falls in the form of rain but we get a few snowfalls averaging 2-3.

Native and transient birds as well as water fowl can be viewed, especially from mid to late Winter. Deer and other wildlife continue to forage on nuts and grasses. The cotton tails can be readily seen. Mice tend to bring some of the nuts indoors so remember to seal you food.

We would like to provide you with information to help you plan for your stay. So we have written a few lines pertinent to the varying degrees of the season that we experience here at The Close:

Early Winter (Mid December - Mid January):
This is usually the coldest time of the year with long nights and short days. After taking a brisk walk, it is nice to return to a cozy cabin for hot cocoa, journalling, reading, study and prayer. Birds like the titmouse and goldfinch are common along the woodland edges. Also, remote areas on the Close and the National Forest are accessible. Be careful, however, on wet days when you are near the bluffs and steep hills. Please inform us when you plan to venture into the surrounding woodlands. You will need to dress in layers. Non-cotton garments are recommended with layers of wool and or fleece. A rain shell should be worn over your clothing. Remember gloves and toboggan to cover your skin. Keep your feet warm and dry with liner socks, wool socks, and waterproof boots.

Mid Winter (Mid January - Late February):
Daylight hours begins to lengthen and woodland rambles are pleasant. It is still a great time for restful sleep, reading, journalling and communion with Christ. We begin to see the return of robins, woodpeckers, and geese. Insects are few so it is a great time to be outside.

Late Winter (Late February - Late March):
Spring Fever spreads with the warmth of the sun, the bird songs, the wildlife, and companionship of friends. Predictably, late freezes temper our fever just a bit. Morning and evening fog tends to blanket the ridge saddles and surrounding gorge. Rains are frequent, so watch for slippery areas and muddy conditions especially around the rim of the plateau. Shades of green begin to show on the surrounding hills and some flowering trees showing color in March. So bring a camera or sketch pad.

A Winter packing list might include: Wool Socks, Liner Socks, Boots, Dry Clothes for cabin wear, Hangers to hang wet clothes, polypro, wool, and fleece layering garments, Cotton undergarments for late Winter. Remember gloves, water repellent shell, warm meals, zip lock bags, camera, binoculars, blankets, sleeping bags, twin size bed linens, cool clothes for warmer days, strong storage containers, drinking water, drink mixes, Bible, journal, pencil, drawing supplies, note pad, and other items specific to your goals on retreat.

Yes, Winter is a great experience. The chill in the air, needle ice, sheets of ice on pond surfaces, the cozy rooms, and little distractions make for a fulfilling stay, here at The Close.