With this column, my father and I bid adieu to our weekly “Worth the Trip” columns and switch over to ski coverage. With the first snow of the season set to hit the state Sunday, our timing couldn’t be better. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a cold winter for the Northeast, and new terrain and facilities at a number of Maine resorts ensure we’ll have an exciting winter.

While this transitional period is a good time to look forward to the coming season, it’s also an opportunity to look back at the warm weather we’re leaving behind. We were lucky enough to have a relatively mild and dry summer, with ample opportunities to hike, bike, kayak and otherwise enjoy the great outdoors. Early reports suggest that locals weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the wonderful weather – hotel, cruise, and highway receipts are all reportedly up this year.

This summer was a reminder for me of how many great outdoors adventures I have right in my back yard. Living in southern Maine, I’d somewhat resigned myself to a two-plus hour drive to the western mountains or Downeast to get to the “real” Maine outdoors – places like Bigelow, Baxter State Park, Mahoosuc Notch or even Acadia National Park. Spending many days in local land trusts and preserves reminded me that even if they don’t offer the same solitude as the big “names” in Maine mountains, they provide a great opportunity to explore. Sites such as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells or Merrymeeting Fields in Woolwich are short drives from the Portland area but are too often overlooked by locals.

Transitioning from hiking to skiing is fairly easy equipment-wise – hiking boots off, ski boots on. Beyond a quick tune to the skis, the equipment is ready to go. But for those of you who bike and kayak during the warmer season, it’s important to remember to take caution while storing your gear for the winter. In my haste to switch sports in November, I’ve sometimes been less than meticulous with care for my equipment that was being put away. Follow these steps to make sure that in April you won’t find a rusty bike or a boat with a family of critters living inside.

For a bike, you’ll want to make sure that the tires are fully inflated before you put it away for the season. If your bike’s frame is resting on flat tires for six months, there’s a good chance that the weight can have ill effects on both the tires and the rim. You’ll also want to wipe down the whole bike, both to get rid of any excess dirt and to prevent rust. Conversely, it’s a good idea to lubricate your cables and chain before storing. If you’re a person possessed with the kind of foresight I wish I had, you can also get a shop tune at the end of the season (rather than in the spring) to catch any lingering problems and ensure your bike is good to go on that first spring day.

(Researching this piece, a number of bikers replied to my questions about storage with incredulity. These folks ride year-round and sung the praises of winter biking. More power to you, my friends. But hopefully this storage info is useful for the rest of us.)

One of the most important things to prepare a kayak for winter storage is a good cleaning. This is particularly true of sea kayaks, which have spent the season collecting damaging crystallizing salt. This is also the perfect time to oil any metal components to keep them in top shape for next season. Once everything is clean and dry, you’ll want to store the kayak upright and on its stern or, ideally, on a rack on its side. The last thing you’ll want to do is leave the boat flat on the ground – over time, the weight of the kayak will warp its body.

As for any hiking gear, just make sure your boots are dry and your backpack is empty. I’ve grabbed my gear in the spring to find moldy boots and rotten food, and can’t say I recommend either.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John. Josh can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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