Take a deep breath. The various solstice-season holidays are almost past, and it's time to really start enjoying winter. I get that winter isn't everyone's favorite outdoor season as it is mine. I just don't get why. There's so much to do in the winter, from the gentle and contemplative, to the adrenaline charged, to the highly aerobic, and all of it is fun.
If you need a kick start to really enjoying winter, why not sign yourself up for a Winter Trails Day (snowlink.com/wintertrails.aspx) event somewhere near you. This year, Winter Trails Day is Jan. 11 and most events welcome snow, not cancel because of it. They have a complete listing of events by state, and you can pre-register on the website. Most venues are offering free snowshoe and/or cross country ski clinics geared toward beginners. If you are already proficient, take someone who isn't or, better yet, call ahead, see if they need help and volunteer your skills to help other folks get started in the outdoors.
Massachusetts has five events listed on the Winter Trails day finder, all at cross-country ski areas.
Maine has four events, including a guided ski up to Maine Huts & Trails Poplar Hut in Carrabassett Valley and back with Executive Director Charlie Woodworth. That should be fun.
New Hampshire has three registered events, all at cross-country ski areas in the Mount Washington Valley (mtwashingtonvalley.org) which is a pretty darned nice place to be at that time of year.
Vermont is the King of New England on Winter Trails Day with 11 cross-country ski areas participating. I particularly like the fact that Ole's Cross Country Ski Center (877-863-3001; www.olesxc.com) in Warren is offering free rentals and equipment both to newcomers and others who "haven't cross-country skied in years."
Eastern New York has three events, including big "Winterfest" events at Fahnestock State Park In Cold Springs put on by the Taconic Outdoor Education Center on Sunday, Jan. 12, and another at Heart Lake (near Lake Placid) by the Adirondack Mountain Club (adk.org) on Jan. 11.
It's been a tradition for my sweetheart Marilyn and I to attend the Winterfest at the Hulbert Center in Fairlee, Vermont, but they aren't having an event this year, so we are headed for the Adirondacks, where we'll stay a night at the Adirondack Loj and another in Lake Placid.
The Adirondack Mountain Club is doing up Winterfest big, with guided hikes and cross-country ski lessons for all ability levels, Telemark ski lessons, snowshoeing, ice skating, ski waxing clinics live music . . . and a kids discovery/play area and a Winter Quest.
I've got my eye on a group ascent of Algonquin Peak (8.6 miles round trip, 3,000-foot elevation gain, crampons required!) while Marilyn (who is smarter than I am) will take it easier with a cross-country ski outing or, maybe a snowshoe hike to the ominously-named Avalanche Lake. You can find all the details at (adk.org/winterfest) if you'd like to join us.
Life isn't a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!