ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN The Huntington News, Jan. 31, 2013
By Sara Tucker, News Staff
Although living in the North means 10+ feet of snow every winter, it has its benefits for winter sports fans. Many students on campus are big into skiing and snowboarding. However, there is still an array of winter activities that most people do not take advantage of in the winter months. For those who want to spend the day outside in the gorgeous winter weather, but don’t want to sign up to strap a pair of metal strips to their feet and hurtle down a slope at top speed, here’s a list of possible alternatives for weekend getaways.
Ice Fishing – This is one of the lesser-known Northeast pastimes enjoyed in the winter months – usually from January to March. An eight-inch hole is drilled in the middle of a lake or other body of water in order to catch the fish living deep in the lake. The old idea of drilling a hole, sitting around it all day and hoping fish will swim by is a thing of the past, and new technologies, like sonar, enable fishermen to check out a particular area before drilling the hole in order to avoid wasting their time where there are no fish. Fly Rod Shop & Fly Fish Vermont offers free ice fishing clinics from 9:30 to 11 a.m. every Saturday until March 15. Gear is provided, but dress warmly.
Source: 2703 Waterbury Rd., Stowe, Vt.; free; flyrodshop.com.
Dog Sledding – Disney’s “Snow Dogs” put dog sledding on the bucket lists of ‘90s children across the nation. Although some people are under the impression that this sport can only be found in places like Alaska or northern Canada, dog sled teams and farms have always been present in states like Maine and Vermont. Peacepups Dog Sledding is located on Lake Elmore in Vermont and offers day trips on sleds with professional guides.
An information session at the beginning of the program will provide insight into one of the oldest modes of transportation, how the dogs are trained and what the guide’s job is. Those participating will get to ride in the comfy padded sled while the driver makes the run with a team of eight dogs. This is a great opportunity to see the dogs in action while gliding through the Vermont countryside. Tours last about two hours.
Source: 239 Cross Rd., Lake Elmore, Vt.; $130; peacepupsdogsledding.com.
Snowmobiling – Driving on snow in the winter is usually stressful, difficult and dangerous. Wheels spin, and those who live in New England often get stuck in driveways or at the bottom of hills after heavy snow storms. Many opt to buy snowmobiles as an alternate means of transportation, but these vehicles are also a fun way to get around in the snow. The Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden offers 30-minute guided snowmobile tours around the mountain with a large group, in addition to other services like cross-country skiing, skating and sledding.
Source: 195 Mountain Top Rd., Chittenden, Vt.; $60; mountaintopinn.com.
Snowshoeing – One great thing about winter, especially in the North, is the beauty of the landscape when covered in a fresh snow Green Mountain Adventures, sponsored by the Middlebury Mountaineer, offers snowshoe tours on the Long Trail through the Green Mountains in Vermont. This three-four hour tour offers views from the most popular vistas on the mountain range. Snowshoeing is “one of those things you should try at least once,” said Natalia Hutt, freshman finance and marketing major.
For those who do not know, snowshoeing is basically hiking with tennis rackets strapped to the bottom of your boots to prevent sinking into the snow.
Source: 2 Park St., Middlebury, Vt.; $100 for 2 people; mmvt.com.
Cross-Country Skiing – For runners, cross-country skiing is the equivalent of running on the snow. Rather than using the slope of the mountain to ski downhill like alpine skiing, cross-country skiing is centered on flatter terrain, which makes it more like a workout than a recreational sport. The Carter’s X-C Ski Center in Oxford, Maine offers day passes and equipment rental for those interested in spending the day touring the countryside on skis.
Source: 420 Main St., Oxford, Maine; $28 for a pass and rentals; cartersxcski.com.
Ice skating – Although ice skating is common all over the Northeast, Sugarloaf Resort in Maine offers skate rentals for an NHL sized outdoor rink in the middle of the mountains. For those visiting the resort and not interested in skiing or snowboarding, the lodge offers activities like tubing and zip lining. If you have never ice skated before, the large size of the rink makes it easy to learn without getting in the way of the more experienced skaters. This is a fun winter alternative to the more difficult skiing and snowboarding.
Source: 5092 Sugarload Access Rd., Carrabassett Valley, Maine; $16; sugarloaf.com.
Tubing – Snow tubing is a winter activity similar to sledding. Riders mount a rubber inner tube and push themselves off a ledge and down a slope to reach considerable speeds due to the lack of friction between the tube and the icy tracks. The Seacoast Snow Park offers 12 lanes of tubing to maximize the number of tubers at once, and the grade differs so tubers can go faster on different slopes. This venue features a magic carpet next to the lanes so walking up a steep hill between runs is no longer necessary.
Source: 932 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, Maine; $17; seacoastfunparks.com.
Zip Lining – For a quick, easy and fun way to get a look at the beautiful snow-covered landscape, consider zip lining. This activity is usually reserved for spring and summer, but a few resorts still offer winter options. Strap on a helmet and dress for the weather. Alpine Adventure offers the unique opportunity of a two and a half hour ride, broken up by several cable-switching stops.
Source: 41 Main St., Lincoln, N.H.; $89; alpinezipline.com.
Hockey – The Rinks at Exeter is an indoor skating facility with two rinks for hockey and figure skating. There are public hours in one of the rinks every day of the week, so bring hockey gear and friends for a game on the ice. If you have never played hockey before and are interested in learning, 40-minute sessions are available for free. The Rinks also offer a good opportunity for those interested in ice-skating who do not want to stay out in the cold. Admission into the rinks is $6 and skate rental is $3. If you want to play hockey, be sure to bring your own gear.
Source: 40 Industrial Dr., Exeter, N.H.; $9; therinksatexeter.com.
Moose Watching – While some northern states offer moose watching tours on buses that drive through the country, these trips are often expensive, and most sightings are not always guaranteed. Instead, consider driving up to Moose Alley in Pittsburgh, NH to try and spot a moose or two on your own. Moose walking through the woods often venture out on the roads by accident and have trouble getting back into the woods because the vegetation is so dense. This means that many moose can be seen walking along the side of the forest during all hours of the day.
Source: The last 12 miles of Rt. 3 in Pittsburg, N.H.; free; nhtourguide.com.