LET IT SNOW! How to enjoy winter weather
By Heather Caro
If spending another winter holed up with restless children has you shaking in your mukluks, rest assured, there is another solution: Teach your children (and maybe yourself) to enjoy the frosty tundra by trying a new winter sport.
From sledding to snowboarding, snowshoeing to skiing, there is something to turn even the most devout sun worshipers to the snow side.
|WHERE TO PLAY
Directions: The park is situated next to the Iron Horse State Park trail head. Take I-82 to Ellensburg, then I-90 west to Exit 54. Distance from Yakima is about 90 miles.
Note: Sno-Park permits are required. Permits are $20 for a day, or $40 for the season. Details are available at parks.wa.gov/winter/permits.asp
Directions: Take I-82 to Ellensburg, then I-90 west to Exit 53. Distance from Yakima is about 90 miles.
Directions: Head west on U.S. Highway 12. The ski area is 50 miles west of Yakima. Park along either side of the highway.
GET THE GEAR
Secondhand gear is plentiful. Check with family and friends whose kids may have outgrown their gear. Ski swaps and thrift stores are also great places to stock up.
Or, try these local snow gurus for rental gear in children’s sizes:
Little Red Schoolhouse, Naches; 509-653-2041
Sporthaus, Yakima; 509-966-6695
Mountain High Sports, Ellensburg; 509-925-4626
For the winter novice, it’s hard to go wrong with a good sled run. Franklin Park in Yakima has one of the best sledding hills around but if you’re ready to venture further from home, the possibilities are endless.
For something new, try Hyak Sno-Park on Snoqualmie Pass, a popular spot with a 300-foot sledding run. Bring your own sleds or tubes; there are no rentals or tow rope, but the slope is an easy climb.
Snoqualmie Pass also boasts its own weekend Summit Tubing Area (formerly Snowflake), located near the Summit Central Ski area.
In season, Summit Tubing is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The park offers groomed lanes, covered tubes and tow ropes to get you back up the hill. Daily rates are $5 to $20.
Sledding and tubing also are allowed off any forest service road and finding your own family hill can be fun.
If downhill skiing or snowboarding are more your interest, family-friendly White Pass offers a variety of lifts and classes for all skill levels, even childcare. Snoqualmie offers similar services and was recently named one of the Top 10 Terrain Parks in the U.S. and Canada by Freeskier Magazine. Both mountains offer groomed trails, equipment rentals and dining facilities.
If the crowds and lift ticket prices have scared you away from the downhill variety, perhaps cross-country skiing is for you. Groomed trails make skiing a breeze and the relative quiet creates ideal wildlife spotting.
Children old enough to walk are able to begin cross-country skiing, though the first few outings should be short to avoid frustration. If Mom and Dad are confident skiers, even the youngest tots can enjoy the snow when tucked into a pack or towed along in a ski sled.
Similarly, snowshoeing is an activity the whole family can easily master and enjoy together. New lighter production materials and children’s sizes help ease little legs and can turn a snowy hike into an exciting adventure.
So now that you know, what are you waiting for? Put down that mug of cocoa, bundle up and go have some fun!
TIPS FOR ENJOYING THE SNOW WITH KIDS
- Dress the part
- Try to layer clothing, avoiding cotton, which holds in moisture.
- Bring an extra set of gloves to change into mid-day; you’ll be glad you did.
- Consider investing in gaiters. Snowy socks can dampen the day of even the most enthusiastic outdoor aficionado. Gaiters are the answer.
- Also, it may be cold outside but don’t forget the sunblock! Protect little eyes from glare with kid-sized ski goggles or sunglasses attached with Croakies.
- Safety first
- Scope out routes ahead of time for obstacles that could cause injury. Choose sledding hills that do not cross traffic and are free from large trees, fences, rocks and telephone poles. Never play on ponds or frozen water which may give way under pressure.
- Enforce the use of helmets. A majority of snow-related injuries could be avoided with this simple practice.
- Try to avoid overcrowded areas which increase risk of collision, among other frustrations. Identify a meeting spot should you and your child become separated.
- Always supervise outdoor play. You may not prevent injury, but medical attention can be obtained more quickly if it occurs.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare
- Choose terrain that will be accessible to everyone in the group. Don’t go out when it’s bad weather and try to choose short outings when first learning skills.
- Turn outings into an adventure by choosing fun destinations and playing games. Animal tracking and I-spy can be fun.
- Set goals, such as reaching a destination or a planned picnic lunch. And, remember to bring lots of snacks — we like M&M’s, PowerBars, gorp and hot chocolate — and push fluids.
Filed under From the Mag, Outdoor Play