Here in the northeast, Winter lasts until the end of March, mid-April in a good year.
Why not enjoy it? Snow is an invitation to get outdoors and play. And in late February through all of March the days are long, often warm, the snow is deep and it really is the best of Winter.
Here are some ideas:
Sled: The perfect Active Outdoors sport for a late winter afternoon. All you need is a hill and a sled. The late winter snowpack is settled and dense, perfect for sledding (and making it a lot easier to climb up the hills!). Cheap plastic sleds work fine. If you want to get fancy, get an Airboard or Hammerhead.
Snow Tube: If you like sliding down but don’t like climbing up, most ski hills these days offer lift-serviced snowtubing. For a few bucks you get an hour or two of cheap thrills, no lessons required. Try it under the lights on a warm, late-winter evening.
Snowbike: It’s the easiest way you’ll ever carve a ski slope. You sit on bike with skis instead of wheels, wear tiny skis on your feet, and tilt your head to one side or the other to turn and stop. Yes, it’s that easy. Pats Peak in Henniker, NH (www.patspeak.com/snowbike.htm) rents the bikes and offers lessons.
Snowscoot: This one is a mystery, but Mont Sutton in Sutton, Quebec (just across the border from Vermont) rents them. It’s apparently similar to a Snowbike but with wider skis (more like snowboards) you can stand on while you hold the handlebars. Gotta try it!
Snowshoe: If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Period. Snowshoes are the ATV’s of the winter world. Deep powder snow can make for tough for off-trail snowshoeing, but perfect snowshoeing on snowmobile trails and cross-country ski trails. When the snow has settled you can go anywhere. Most outdoor shops and cross-country ski areas rent snowshoes. If you’ve never tried it, what are you waiting for?
XC ski-“Classic”: I just got a letter from a reader who tried cross-country skiing for the first time last Sunday. She’s totally hooked, can’t wait to go again. As she says “Picking up cross-country skiing is incredibly simple!” “Classic” or touring skis let you ski in the prepared tracks of a ski area (go to www.xcski.org for a pretty complete resort finder), or out on the golf course near your house.
XC ski-Skate: Skate skiing needs groomed trails, but it’s faster and even better exercise than “Classic” cross country. Unless you are a really good classic skier, don’t try this without a lesson. But it sure is fun!
Dogsled: Not the “tourist” variety where they bundle you in a sled and drag you around for an hour, but one where you help hook up the dogs and drive the sled. Try Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, Maine or Song In The Woods near Moosehead Lake in Maine.
Nordic Skate: Skating on natural ice with long skates and cross-country ski boots. Late-winter melts and re-freezes can produce superb ice conditions. Nordic Skater can rent you gear and point you toward safe ice.
That’s 10 ideas you can try this weekend. You could also go ice climbing, winter mountaineering, winter camping (this is absolutely the best time of the winter for that!), kite skiing, backcountry skiing, Telemarking, Randonee racing . . . you get the idea.
You can’t change the weather, so change your attitude, Instead of making yourself miserable yearning for warmer weather, enjoy the snow and cold while we still have it. Think of it this way: Winter is a joy to be savored as long as possible.