Tag Archives: wintertime

A Last Hurrah for Winter Adventures

As March rolls around, winter season is indeed melting away. Soon, the snow blanketing everything in sight that previously transformed the ground into a wondrous, pristine white, will retreat to give way to the flourishing green of trees, various vegetation, and the cheerful movement of wildlife. But before we say our final goodbye to winter season, here’s a last hurrah for winter adventures that we’re sure you’ll enjoy.

Cross-country Skiing

cross country ski

Miles of icy, snowy open terrain are ready to be explored while cross-country skiing. [Image: http://spgweekends.com/]

Cross-country skiing is one of the more popular winter sports in the country. It’s a form of skiing that utilizes one’s own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain. Fun fact: Did you know that this form of skiing was actually first practiced around 600 BCE in China? Incredible how far it has gone since then!

While it’s now generally practiced for fun, some still use it for transportation, just as it was originally utilized. It’s now generally considered a popular recreational activity for individuals and groups who want to explore the snow-laden country with friends and family.

Ice Fishing

ice fishing

Ice fishing in the middle of a frozen lake. [Image: www.adventure.howstuffworks.com/]

Ice fishing can be a fun activity to do during the winter. Many local wildlife and park departments even offer free fishing activities for their visitors to participate in. While ice fishing requires some skill and knowledge, pretty much anyone can enjoy this sport with some research and guidance beforehand.

This sport requires only a couple of key pieces of equipment: Lines and fish hooks or spears. With the weather heading on to the milder March where spring will soon step in to take the chill away, now is the perfect time to go ice fishing on a frozen body of water. As a precaution to protect oneself from frostbite, dress comfortably with layers (heavy shirt, pants, socks, and a wool or fleece sweater). Research some cold survival tips before going out to stay safe and warm while outdoors.

Ice Skating

ice skating

The ice skating rink in Rockefeller Center, New York is a seasonal landmark during the winter season. [Image: www.indiatimes.com/]

Ice skating is a popular sport for all ages—who doesn’t love the thrill of being on ice? Challenging one’s balance and coordination, it’s one of the oldest winter recreational sports. It’s particularly popular among children, which makes it a great family activity.

Snowboarding

snowboarding

A snowboarder showing off some moves. [Image: www.snowbrains.com/]

Snowboarding is another activity that can be done during winter. The sport originated as a game created by an engineer in Michigan, which later transformed into an actual sport. It was originally called “snurfer” (snow + surfer), and since then, it has grown and has been a winter sport in the Olympics since 1998. This activity is popular with everyone from beginners to seasoned pros.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

A snowmobile tour group. [Image: www.michigan.org/]

Snowmobiling is a fun activity that you can do solo or with a group. Depending on the vehicle, it can hold up to two people, which is perfect for group adventures across winter’s shining white terrain. And if you find that you’re good enough, you might want to head over to your local park for a snowmobiling competition.

If you’re interested in finding which state parks are the best venues for these winter sports, head on over to our Pocket Ranger® state park apps, but do it quickly because it’s getting warm out there. Using our explore feature, you’ll have this information at your fingertips in no time. Happy winter adventuring!

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Every time rumors of a snowstorm circulate, children (and even some adults, if we’re being totally honest here) across the afflicted areas have one collective thought: “Let’s build a snowman!” It’s an activity that crosses oceans, demolishes language barriers, and completely disregards age. We’ve pretty much been seeing an onslaught of snowmen since Thanksgiving in the States, so we’re used to their quirky carrot noses, round button noses, and adorable top hats by now. But where exactly did this fun snowy tradition come from?

Snowman.

Now that’s a well-made snowman! [Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/]

It’s hard to track when the first snowman was first crafted, but author of “The History of the Snowman,” Bob Eckstein, found documentation of snowmen dating back to medieval times. The earliest depiction he found was from 1380 and was a marginal drawing from a piece called, “Book of Hours.”

There’s also plenty of proof showing that people were building snowmen since the Middle Ages where they were searching for an outlet for creative expression. And what better way to show off your artistic skills than crafting a temporary human sculpture! Couples often took a chilly stroll to see what new creations sprouted up overnight, a tour de snowperson, if you will. There were even snowmen created by some famous artists, like the time that Michelangelo commissioned a snowman in Florence’s ruler’s mansion courtyard in 1494.

Snowmen.

Watch out for the snowman army—coming to your neighborhood this snow day. [Image: http://thingsaboutportlandthatsuck.com/]

Snowmen have also popped up during plenty of historical events. During the Winter of Death, a period of six weeks of subzero temperatures in Brussels, they saw what came to be known as the Miracle of 1511. Snowmen took over the city, and they even had their own personalities to go along with their presences with some designed in a political way while others were a bit raunchier.

Many years later, history saw another sighting of snow art when a pair of snowmen guards stood watch in Fort Schenectady as the actual guards fled inside to avoid the blizzard. This event became known as the Schenectady Massacre of 1690, as the snowmen did not do too good of a job warding off the French Canadian and Native American forces that had already braved three weeks of traveling through the snow.

Upside down snowman.

Who said there was a formula to snowman building? [Image: http://theverybesttop10.com/]

So whether you’re looking forward to impending snowstorms as a way to get outside and let some of your inner-creativity out, or you’d rather hunker down and preoccupy yourself indoors, our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps are the best aid for whatever adventure you choose. With whichever option you go with, just make sure you have fun doing it!

Tips for Staying Warm and Dry During Winter Adventures

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you should stop adventuring, but it does mean that you have to prepare more. Staying warm and dry when you’re out on a long winter bike ride, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or exploring the wintery landscape in another way is essential. You definitely won’t have a good time with numb fingers and toes, and a negative experience will make you less likely to get outside during winter in the future. Plus, hypothermia and frostbite are not laughing matters and should be avoided at all costs.

Woman shivering.

Brr! Bundle up—winter is officially here. [Image: http://www.mirror.co.uk/]

Dress Appropriately

Winter calls for certain gear that you obviously don’t need in other seasons, and while it may seem excessive at times, it’s all necessary. From top to bottom, there are a few essential items to make sure you have in stock.

Couple snowshoeing.

The couple that dresses warm together, probably goes on to do lots of fun outdoor adventuring together. [Image: http://www.active.com/]

  • Socks, socks, and more socks. And not just thin cotton socks, but at least one pair of heavy-duty wool socks to keep your tootsies snug. You’ll also probably want a pair of thinner wool socks to put on underneath the thicker ones. Layers are essential for keeping your extremities toasty warm.
  • Large, breathable, waterproof boots. To account for the thicker socks and extra layers, you’ll need a pair of boots that are larger than your normal shoe size. You’ll also want a pair that can breathe and that are waterproof because wet, sweaty feet lead to wet boots, which will eventually freeze and lead to your feet getting colder quicker.
  • Kneewarmers or tights/long johns underneath snow pants. Your legs will probably be one of the warmest parts of your body as you’ll typically be exerting yourself by using your legs. Tights, long johns, and kneewarmers are all helpful in providing a bit of extra warmth, though. And these, of course, go underneath any heavier snow pants or thicker pants you may be wearing—unless you’re trying to create a new fashion trend, that is.
  • Jackets for days. There’s a general “rule of three” when it comes to layering. An insulated jacket is essential, and depending on the temperatures and how long you’ll be outside for, an extra jacket as well as a breathable, non-cotton shirt might also be necessary.
  • Fingers are like toes and should be treated similarly. What we mean by this is that fingers, like toes, are extremities and often get cold first as your body concentrates heat on your torso for your vital organs. Therefore it’s appropriate to layer and invest in some extra linings. There is also a lot of talk that mittens are more effective than gloves, but that’s usually up to your personal preference—if you absolutely hate mittens for some reason, then it’s probably not worth the investment. Hand (and foot!) warmers are also helpful and are available in bulk on many sites.
  • Protect that beautiful head of yours. A hat and scarf combo are great for winter exploring and help to keep your ears, neck, and face comfortable. There are other items—like a buff, balaclava, or earmuffs—that you might also want to look into, but as long as you’re covered then you’re good to go. It’s also important to remember that if you start becoming warm, the scarf and hat should be the first items to be removed.

Know the Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Cold Spongebob.

Trust me, this is not the life you want. [Image: http://media.tumblr.com/]

There are more than a few ways to know if you’re suffering from hypothermia or frostbite as well as plenty of ways to treat both. With frostbiteyou’ll start out feeling a cold, prickly feeling in your body parts and they’ll turn red (as mentioned before, extremities are the first areas that typically become afflicted with frostbite). From there, the body part will grow increasingly numb and will turn white, and may even turn blue or purple. You’ll know you’re in trouble if your body starts feeling warm and you experience stinging or burning. At this point you may also experience blisters a day or so after warming back up. If your frostbite advances even further, all layers of your skin will be affected by the freezing temperatures. You might lose functionality in your joints and will become completely numb in the frostbitten areas, which will eventually turn black in the days following the exposure.

On the other hand, hypothermia is a whole other monster to deal with. A few signs of hypothermia are shivering, dizziness, confusion, trouble speaking, lack of coordination, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Although it’s usually difficult to notice hypothermia as the symptoms are gradual, the more it sets in, the more apparent the symptoms become. However, the shivering will cease in extreme cases. Wearing breathable, non-cotton clothes during your winter adventures is very important as cotton absorbs sweat and can freeze, making you more vulnerable to hypothermia.

Stay Hydrated

Woman drinking water.

Drink up! The water’s great! [Image: http://thoughtfulwomen.org/]

It’s easy to overlook drinking water when your teeth are chattering and your muscles twitching with the cold, but it’s incredibly important to stay hydrated during wintertime exercise. When your body is cold, your mind ends up preoccupied, and you simply don’t feel thirsty as often, even when you’re on the brink of dehydration. Water also helps you generate heat easier and quicker, which is especially important when you’re covered in tons of layers. It’s important to drink water often (and not a swig of whiskey, as some movies may have you believe).

Hopefully with these tips you’re feeling a bit more inspired to head outside and explore, despite winter’s chill. And nothing can make that easier than our handy Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, which are available for download in the iTunes and Google Play Stores!