New England Winter Fun: 17 Ways
Dartmouth Winter Carnival
Join in a weekend of seasonal fun–February 12-16 this year–at the oldest collegiate winter festival, held annually on campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. Since the carnival’s birth in 1910, it has focused on celebrating winter, snow, and outdoor sports. Events include ski competitions, a human dogsled race, jazz and a cappella concerts, a polar bear swim, dances, and a screening of the 1939 movie Winter Carnival, a romance set at Dartmouth. Each year students build a large snow sculpture on the college green, too. What better way to get into the spirit of winter recreation? 603-646-3399; dartmouth.edu/~sao/events/carnival
Make the Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate
For rich flavor and a frothy top, always use full-fat milk (this is no time to worry about your diet). Use just shy of an ounce (about a third of a cup) of finely chopped chocolate per cup of milk. The cocao content is up to you: One in the 60 percent range will make a rich, silky hot chocolate, whereas a slightly lower percentage will make a sweeter drink. To flavor it, add cinnamon, vanilla, chili powder, raspberry sauce, or peppermint. For an extra kick, throw in a splash of Baileys or a flavored liqueur. Flake some chocolate on top to make it look professional, or add a raspberry, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and so on. Use soft marshmallows because they melt better; the small ones are best, but the big ones are still great for dipping. And don’t forget the whipped cream on top!
Make Like Hans Brinker
Fairlee, Vermont’s Lake Morey is home to the longest natural ice-skating trail in the country. This breathtaking two-mile-long track is protected from harsh winds by the deeply forested hillsides around it. The four-mile loop trail, generally frozen solid from December to April, hosts several seasonal events, including the Lake Morey Skate-athon (January 10 this year), Lake Morey WinterFest (January 11), and a series of Nordic skating workshops (January 17-18). Or just come for a quiet day of skating with family or friends. Relax and enjoy the panoramic views of Vermont’s snow-covered mountainsides and cliffs. 802-649-3939; nordicskating.org 802-333-3405; alohafoundation.org/hulbert
Catch Iditarod Fever Close to Home
Mahoosuc Guide Service, based in Newry, Maine, offers dogsled
day trips and weekend overnights, introducing beginners to winter travel by snowshoe, ski, and canine team (all specialized winter clothing and equipment provided), as well as four- to six-day North Woods journeys into pristine wilderness. Or, if you’re not quite up to mushing, check out the 80th Laconia (New Hampshire) World Championship Sled Dog Derby, February 13-15 this year. Watch canine champs race this 18-mile course over three days–a great way to get into the sled-dog spirit. Mahoosuc Guide Service, 207-824-2073; mahoosuc.com Laconia Derby, 603-524-4314; lrsdc.org
Hang 10 in 10°
Visit Narragansett, Rhode Island, on February 21 this year to catch the 41st Annual Mid-Winter Surfing Championships, the longest-running winter surfing contest in the world. Winter surfers can enjoy near-empty beaches and bigger waves, and spectators can stay warm on the beach while still basking in the thrill of watching the competition. And, if you want to try winter surfing but you’re not ready to compete yet, contact Peter Panagiotis–he runs the Peter Pan Surf School in Narragansett all year round (wet suit and surfboard provided). Eastern Surfing Association, 757-233-1790; sne.surfesa.org Peter Pan Sales, 401-575-0003; peterpansurf.com
Moosehead Lake Snowmobiling
With 160 miles of well-groomed, marked trails (thanks to five loyal snowmobile clubs)–plus stops for coffee, food, and gas along the way–you can’t beat Moosehead, Maine’s largest lake, for snowmobiling adventure. Its tracks join with the Maine Interconnected Trail System, letting riders explore more of the Pine Tree State plus New Hampshire and Canada as well. Greenville and many of the other towns along the way are snowmobile-friendly, with rental shops, guide services, and plenty of resorts, as well as easily accessible trail condition reports. Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce, 888-876-2778, 207-695-2702; mooseheadlake.org
Watch Olympic Flyers
The Harris Hill Ski Jump in Brattleboro, Vermont, is one of only six such Olympic-sized structures in the U.S. Open since 1922, Harris Hill stayed in operation after the sport’s popularity declined. The 85th annual tournament is scheduled for February 14-15 this year. It’s worth the trip to watch the ski jumpers do their thing from the spectator climb–and when they take off, you’ll hear the whoosh of air as they leap into space. 877-254-4565; harrishillskijump.org
5 Tips for Great Winter Photos
1. If it snowed the night before, photograph early in the morning, before the sun becomes bright enough to reflect off the snow.
2. In winter, don’t shoot directly into the sun, because it will reflect off the snow and bleach your picture.
3. Because of the gray-and-white landscape, it’s easy to get washed-out looking pictures, so include some bright hues–a colorful scarf, for example–in your settings, to break up the pale expanse of winter scenes.
4. To keep the lens from fogging up in the cold, hold your camera near your body when you’re not using it.
5. Cold weather uses up power fast, so carry extra batteries. When you’re not taking pictures, take the batteries out of the camera and keep them warm in your pocket to save energy.
How to Build a Snowman
The best snowman snow is at or near the melting point, with a high moisture content (near 50 percent). Roll the separate sections as symmetrically as possible, so that he doesn’t start to lean. If the balls won’t stay together, put sticks through their centers for support. If your arms get tired from all the rolling and lifting, use a bucket to pick up the snow and pile it on top for the upper sections; then shape them. Food coloring is a fun and easy way to add some pizzazz to your snowman; an umbrella will keep him from melting at the first hint of sun.