There is no getting around winter. So might as well get started. To the right? Enjoy a good book, binge watch Netflix, savor hot drinks, and cozy up by the woodstove or fireplace for hours with your music (and your darling).
But being active and getting outside is vital for our health. And most upstate New Yorkers will tell you that year-round access to outdoor recreation is a bonus; one of the blessings that comes with living here. We have Adirondack Park, as well as many other local and national parks, forests, waterways, recreation areas, and trail systems that make the area attractive and accessible to families and friends who enjoy hanging out together. Unless it’s dangerously cold, wintry weather is no reason to stay indoors.
For kids, winter is the season for snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, tobogganing, sledding, tube sliding, ice skates and bicycles on tires. And for families and friends, there’s snowmobiling, downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking, winter camping, dog sledding, ice fishing and winter carnivals.
If you live in upstate New York, you live in the middle of, or at least near, some of the best outdoor recreation in the east. In fact, outdoor winter recreation is an integral part of the region’s heritage and is an extremely powerful and sustainable economic engine that supports local businesses and contributes to healthy local communities.
So put on your long johns, layer up (consider multiple high-quality, moisture-wicking layers), and grab a warm coat, hat, boots, maybe a scarf, and a pair of well-insulated gloves or mittens. Because, as I’ve heard, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
At different times in my life, I have favored several different winter activities. Among them were:
Tobogganing is truly such an elemental experience. You jump on your sled; launch yourself from an unobstructed slope covered in snow; here we go ! Simple. Yet it can provide hours and hours of invigorating, adrenaline-charged fun.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like rolling down a hill on a sled, saucer, toboggan or inner tube, at some point in their life. I remember rolling over cafeteria trays and pieces of cardboard when I was young.
Toddlers may find it a little scary at first (like any new and exciting experience), but if you start by pulling them on a sled behind you, before heading up the small hill behind the school or any other nearby of a kid-sized hill where you can spend your day sliding, their initial qualms, if any, usually tend to wear off fairly quickly and often go away completely after a few runs.
But sledding is not just for small children. It’s a free, fun and easy way for older teens to get out and reconnect with their inner child, while working on the really big hills; ones that someone younger wouldn’t even consider. And young adults with (or without) children can get together with family and friends for tobogganing. You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize how hard you’re working out.
Like sledding, tube sliding requires no special skills. You just put your rear end in a tube and hold on. And when you’re riding in the ski areas on groomed, multi-lane tubing-only trails, you can experience exhilarating speeds with very little risk of injury (unlike descending a mountain while hanging on to the tube). tractor for dear life or whistling down the back roads in tow, behind a snowmobile or pickup truck) and use motorized tow ropes that bring you and your tube back to the top of the course.
Tubing is available at two local ski areas; Titus Mountain in Malone (518-483-3740) and Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake (518-891-0970). Titus Mountain Tubing Park is currently open Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday. Mount Pisgah tube park is not running at the moment but should be operational in February.
If you like to hike, but there’s snow on the ground, why not strap on a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails? Snowshoes distribute your weight evenly over a larger area than regular snow boots, providing effective flotation, allowing the wearer to walk, or even run, on snowy ground without sinking or sinking.
You won’t need a lift ticket or specialized clothing. And, since most racquet bindings are designed to accept a wide variety of shoe and boot styles, you won’t need specialized footwear either. You might, however, consider investing in a pair of gaiters, which keep snow out of the top of your boots, especially in deep powder conditions.
Saranac Lake will host its annual winter carnival February 4-13. Festival highlights include the Ice Palace (which is under construction, as of this writing) and the Gala Winter Carnival Parade scheduled for Saturday, February 12 starting at 1 p.m. The 10-day event includes two parades and three fireworks shows. , as well as a variety of sporting events and shows. For more information, visit saranaclakewintercarnival.com.