Non-hook-and-bullet outdoor winter fun


I enjoy ice fishing and small game hunting during the winter months as much as anyone, but sometimes the time, place and conditions just aren’t right. Other times, I simply feel like doing something else, especially when conditions are ripe for those activities.

That’s where cross-country (Nordic) skiing comes into play, which is something I got into a little later in life, but still when I was a much younger man then I am now. Having never tried downhill skiing, I decided I wanted to try the skinny skis a few years out of college. I gave it a shot, but was alone and had no instruction.

Years later, a co-worker who once worked at a XC-ski resort in the Adirondacks, talked me into going there with him. He just about killed me, before finally giving me some basic tips on turning, going downhill and stopping.

It all made sense and I quickly caught on and became hooked on the sport. It was great exorcise and eventually I invested in better equipment that was geared towards back-country, wilderness skiing. Back in those days, when I was in my early thirties, and was more athletic, we enjoyed some great days in the winter woods and on occasion, a ski resort or two.

The athleticism has wained during these middle-age years, but I still enjoy a good run on my Nordic skis and try to keep within my limitations. There are some nice trails in my area that are groomed, and one trail network has lights for night skiing. A good friend, and former co-worker, and I have been getting together there once a week, on average, this winter and testing our skills.

It’s been fun and it didn’t take long to get back in that kick-and-glide groove, a style that is more my speed compared to the faster skate skiing style. My buddy and I are both pretty laid back when skiing. We want a good workout, but we don’t want to break any bones.

Yet another option for a winter workout is snowshoes. Conditions in my area have not been great for that this winter, as most of the snow we got in December is gone. But, we usually get some in February and that’s when the snowshoes will hopefully come out for walks on our wooded property.

My wife Adrienne, and I tend to take afternoon snowshoe treks, especially on weekends. After a while our trails get packed down and COVID pending, we are sometimes joined by a few friends, which is always a good time.

For number of years Adrienne and I used to frequent this one particular place that had a network of both snowshoe and groomed ski trails. She would strike out on snowshoes for a pond at the end of the trail system and I would ski all around her. We’d meet at the pond for lunch and repeat the scenario upon our return. We miss that place.

Getting back to snowshoes, they are handy if I do want to squeeze in a small game hunt. And, I’ve used them many times when setting and checking maple sap taps; a season that is just on the horizon.

Both skiing and snowshoeing are perfect winter cures for Cabin Fever. Give them a try before it’s over.

Categories: Dan Ladd

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