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New England Creativity

Time to Assemble: Ongoing; maintained consistently throughout the season

Inspiration: In 2009, Proctor’s yard was buried in snow, and he found himself about to host a big family event, including kids who’d want to go sledding. By packing snow down, Proctor built a 4-foot-tall ramp with a long run. “That first one was okay,” he says, “but I was already thinking about how it could be better.”

Evolution: The following winter, Proctor built a 26-foot-long wooden ramp, 9 feet high at the start. “Each year it turns into more of an adult ride,” he says. “I water it down at night. I added lights. The corners were close to 6 feet high last year. I get addicted to perfecting it.”

The Course: Proctor’s run tracks his long, winding driveway and totals about 350 feet in length. “There isn’t a lot of slope, but we still get speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, which feels very fast,” he says.

Best Sled: “We’ve tried all different shapes and sizes,” Proctor says. “But so far nothing works better than simple, inexpensive, plastic toboggans.”

Name: Bert Yankielun, D.E.

Location: Deer Island, Maine

Project: Igloo and snow-shelter workshops

Materials Used: Snow, carpenter’s saw, snow shovel

Time to Assemble: Three hours for several adults (1-1-1/2 hours to prepare snow, 1-1/2-2 hours to build a typical igloo)

Inspiration: Yankielun got his start in igloos more than two decades ago while working for the Army’s Cold Regions lab in Hanover, New Hampshire. That winter, a local science museum held an igloo-building event. Yankielun, who had worked in the Arctic and Antarctic, stepped in when the instructor couldn’t make it. He’s been hosting it ever since.

Igloo Construction 101: Yankielun says that the best snow for igloos is dry, wind-packed stuff that hasn’t gone through freezing/thawing cycles. He starts by shoveling snow into a large flat area and walking on it with snowshoes to tamp it down. Then he cuts that snow into blocks, which he assembles into an arched-dome igloo shape.

Best Part: Snow shelters fascinate Yankielun because of their inherent contradictions: that something so cold can be used to keep people warm; that something so fragile can become strong enough to support the weight of a polar bear on its roof. “It’s about making friends with winter,” he says. “I have, and I love sharing that.”

Name: Citizens of Bethel, Maine

Location: Bethel, Maine

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Thursday, December 15th, 2011

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