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Susquehanna Life

Embrace the Cold!

Nov 18, 2014 05:28PM ● By Erica Shames

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold and snowy winter. You have a couple of options: hibernate indoors and complain, or get out and embrace the cold. Here are some dynamic ideas to get you out the door!   

1. Follow a creature’s tracks: Following tracks in fresh snow is like going back in time to see what happened before you arrived. State parks are prime locations for a wealth of wild animals. Tracking them is free, although it helps to have a guide. Animal Tracks, by Olaus J. Murie and Mark Elbroch (Peterson Field Guides), will help identify who’s who.

2. Join a Christmas bird count: Area Audubon Society members have paved the way for trying winter birding with weekly group outings, but the annual Christmas Bird Count is the social event of the season for birders. Identify common species and discover rare species passing through. Visit to find a count near you.

3. Ride a snowmobile: Thousands of miles of groomed trails throughout Pennsylvania make it prime territory for the sport. The Pennsylvania Snowmobile Association ( is the leading authority—from the proper hand signals to trails and local club information. And you can register online for safety classes.

4. Learn to cross-country ski: Gliding across a trail on cross-country skis may be the ultimate winter fitness sport. It combines low-impact, full-body aerobic exercise with the challenge of mastering the gliding technique. Get off on the right ski with information from And once you have the knack, there’s no better place than Crystal Lake Ski Center (, in Hughesville, to try out your skills on groomed trails in a bucolic setting.

5. Harness your dog for skijoring: If you have cross-country skiing skills and a sizeable winter-ready dog you have the ingredients for skijoring, a scaled-down version of dog sledding that eliminates the sled. You’ll need a harness, a tether and a good sense of humor.  In Pennsylvania, your resource is Pennsylvania Sled Dog Club (

6. Build a snow shelter: Take advantage of the snow and build—even if it’s in your front yard. Shovel up a huge mound and make a snow cave. Better yet, find a meadow with at least two feet of snow, get some pointers from and make a snow cave big enough for several people and light it up with candles.

7. Do it under a full moon: Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a full evening on skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. Several groups, including the Wolf Sanctuary, in Lancaster, ( gather for full-moon treks.

8. Pedal a fat bike: Balloon-tired bikes– known as fat bikes– are opening doors to winter riding on snow-packed trails. Big low-pressure tires offer traction on packed snow and tame the roughness in undeveloped routes. Learn more at,, and

9. Hike the snow – A great reason to get outside is an invigorating hike through the snow. Joe Rebar leads hikes throughout the winter at RB Winter State Park, Mifflinburg. To get on his list to receive notices about upcoming hikes, email him at

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