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10 Outdoor Winter Activities in NS

It’s early January and already I’m shack wacky. Even though I am getting lots of fresh air as I train for The Hypothermic Half Marathon, I still want to “do” something. For the last couple days I’ve been suffering a mild case of writers block. A few months ago I was bursting with ideas on things to blog about. Now it’s January and I’m not even inspired to clean the kitchen floor (okay, I’m never inspired to do that). I blame it on the January blahs. So, to help me shake out of it, I got a hair cut. Somewhere between the pungent smell of hair dye and purring like cat with someone playing with my hair, a thought popped into my head – write about how to get the “ick” out of January.

10 Activities to Get The “ick” Out of January– in no particular order:

1. Outdoor Photography
Yes, at this time of year we curse the ice and snow but before you reach for that shovel and ice pick, discover the beauty in the white stuff. Take a picture of it. Get close-up, and zoom in on an icicle.

The Photographic Guild of Nova Scotia motivates its members and guests with seminars, workshops and field trips for all levels of shutterbugs. Their next field trip is January 25th (Eagle Watching in Sheffield Mills).

2. Eagle Watching

January and February are the best months for viewing eagles and the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch is where you’ll be guaranteed some action. This annual event runs Jan. 24 – 25, 2009 and Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2009 and is in its 18th year. Near Kentville, this community comes alive with eagle watchers. There are lots of viewing areas so bring your camera a knock off items #1 and #2 from this list.

3. Snowshoeing
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Follow these handy tips and get ready to burn a lot of calories with this safe, low impact sport. Thanks to technological improvements from the cumbersome wooden variety, you can choose to do a leisurely stroll or a full out sprint.

Snowshoeing in Guysborough is easy. Just sign out a pair of snowshoes (they’re free) from the Guysborough Fitness Centre and then explore around the grounds of the Osprey Shores Golf Resort. I’m also told that snowshoeing is fabulous on Five Islands Provincial Park’s hiking trails. While the park is officially closed for the season, no one minds if you strap on your shoes. Be safe!
For more info:
Nova Scotia trails (maintained during winter)

4. Winter Surfing
Watch them, cheer them on while standing firmly with hot chocolate in hand from the beach. This is really something to see and at Lawrencetown beach is where you’ll find these brave people. Hot tub dude?
Click on the image to watch a winter surfing video (January 4th, 2009)
For more info:
Scotia Surfer

Surf Nova Scotia

5. Geo caching
Geocaching is an outdoor high-tech treasure hunting game by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches (with “treasures” inside), and then share your experiences online. If you take a treasure, you must leave one for the next person. Did you know that Nova Scotia’s first cache was also the first in Canada? Placed: Jun 18th, 2000. Today, there are 709,820 active geocaches around the world. Wow.
For more info:
Maritime Geocaching Association
Stonehame Lodge and Chalets-Weekend Geocaching Packages

6. Winter Camping
Grab your wool, polypropylene, hydrophobic, Polarguard, Hollofil, Quallofil, Primaloft, Microloft, Thinsulate, pile and fleece and do good research before you set out.
Kejimkujik National Park offers wonderful sites in Jeremy’s Bay and has four warm-up shelters. In the backcountry, 8 campsites and 2 backcountry cabins are available. Call the Visitor Centre (open on weekends) for more information and backcountry reservations (1-902-682-2772). Get inspired by watching an episode of Survivor Man.

7. Sliding
I’m usually corrected when I say “coasting” but I grew up saying it on the Eastern Shore. Must be a Maritime saying. Whatever you call it, it really gets the heart rate up. It’s self-explanatory, find a hill, get on something that slides and go. While it’s not wise to wear suede, it sure is fun.

There are too many hills to name but for a thrill, slide down the steep hills at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. What a rush.

Chedabucto Bay also calls tobogganing “coasting” (so there!) and a hill curving down to a dock in Mussel Cove is a local popular spot. No need to bring your own, as a guest at the DesBarres Manor Inn you’ll be provided with your own slider or coaster (whatever you call it). Nuff said.

8. Dog Sledding
Long before there were airplanes and snowmobiles, dog sled dogs were once one of the main methods of transportation in the Arctic regions. There is a lot of coordination in dog sledding. All dogs must run approximately the same velocity and be about the same size as the dog to their lateral position. Mushers have to be in good physical shape and carry tasty rewards for the dogs.

Simple sled dog commands:
“Mush!” — Let’s Go
“Gee!” — Turn Right
“Haw!” — Turn Left
“Whao!” — Slow or Stop
“On by!” — Straight Ahead
Click on the video to see one persons first dog sledding adventure in Cape Breton.
For more info:
Guided dog sledding tours in Cape Breton

9. Skiing
What’s your style? Downhill or Cross Country or Snowboard? These activities will get your cheeks red and give you a good nights sleep.

For more info:
Ski Martock
Ski Wentworth
Cross Country Ski Areas in Nova Scotia

10. Ice Fishing
Handy check-list:
Power Auger- check
Fishing rod- check
Fishing hut- check
Fish finder- check (hey, isn’t that cheating?)
No matter, there’s smelt and trout to be found in the cold water.
For more info
Canada Adventures Guide (they do hut rentals)
Pond skating in Nova Scotia, Canada
More winter activity ideas:
Bay of Fundy Tourism
Winter in Nova Scotia
Authentic Seacoast
novascotia.com Winter Packages

It’s your turn, what are YOUR 10 outdoor winter activities!

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