Thursday February 07, 2013 | 05:20 PM
Posted by Mike Tetreault

On a day when we’re facing predictions of a “historic blizzard,” I’m excited about the possibility of getting outside to enjoy some real Maine winter weather.

When I travel outside of Maine, I’m often asked the key to surviving its lengthy winters. And while I can’t speak for everyone, my secret weapon is a pair of skis. With skis, I can access the forests I hike in the summertime, and get to observe the woods in a whole new setting. As I glide through the shimmering landscape, the trees are stripped bare of their leaves and I get a glimpse of the ephemeral foundation of the forest.

Mainers have discovered that winter is infinitely more enjoyable with an outdoor sport or activity. The short, cold days are bearable with a snowshoe hike or ice fishing session. Six-plus inches in one snowfall, temperatures in the negatives, and whipping winds are shrugged off when one is able to experience the upside of winter.

Still, cabin fever can get the best of us, especially as winter persists into March, and sometimes even April. Fortunately, Maine is ripe with new opportunities to appreciate the season, such as Great Maine Outdoor Weekend and The Nature Conservancy’s Ski-Stakes.

Be it animal tracking at Aldermere Farm, a snowshoe hike to the summit of Mount Christopher, or a horse-drawn wagon ride at Number One Pond, let the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend be your chance to try a new winter activity.

The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is a series of events lead by outdoor oriented organizations and companies to celebrate the how, where, and what of being active outside in Maine. A fantastic chance to try something new and mingle with your bundled-up neighbors, the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend takes place February 15-18.

And, if you’re already a skier, take a look at our Ski-Stakes to win free lift tickets to either Sugarloaf Mountain Resort or Shawnee Peak Resort. But don’t wait too long; the deadline for entries is Monday, February 18.  Skiing is part of our Maine heritage; it’s a great way to embrace our winter and our mountains.

I hope you can take advantage of some of these winter activities. If not, perhaps you can visit some of our preserves. Appleton Bog, Saco Heath and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge are great places to snowshoe.

Despite its bad rap, winter is a great season when you know how to take advantage of all it has to offer.

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Mike Tetreault leads The Nature Conservancy in Maine, where he works with partners in conservation, government and community development to identify solutions which ensure that Maine's natural resources are available for people and for nature.

He holds a degree in environmental studies from Brown and a MS from the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, and has studied resource management in Kenya, Mexico and throughout New England.

Tetreault started his career teaching wilderness leadership and environmental education, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy since 1998. He lives in Bath with his wife, their daughter and a menagerie of pets.


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