The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








“‘The Myth Makers’ Andy Moerlein and Donna Dodson’s Black Mountain Walrus snow sculpture.” Courtesy photo.

In the snow
Even winter-haters can find fun in the snow

By Allie Ginwala

 Sure, the winter weather may bring constantly cold fingers and the ever-present chance of difficult driving, but it also offers new ways to have fun outdoors. Whether you’re feeling artsy or active, here are a handful of ways to get into the snow this season — figuratively or literally.

Feeling active?
If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding...
Take a hike
Eastern Mountain Sports offers a winter hiking series (see that explores local trails and helps people hike safely in the snow. Guides will help you suit up with the right gear (snowshoes or microspikes, depending on the weather) and lead you over the river and up the mountain. This winter, EMS will lead two winter treks at Mt. Monadnock on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, March 2, for $75 per person each time. EMS will provide the snowshoes or microspikes and hiking poles, but check out the website for the full necessary gear list. If you’re looking for more of a local snowshoeing experience, check out the trails at Beaver Brook Nature Center (117 Ridge Road, Hollis, or America’s Stonehenge (105 Haverhill Road, Salem,
Or go tubing
• Gunstock Mountain Resort (719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, Thrill Hill Tubing Park has handle-tow lift pulls to bring individuals and their tubes to the top of the hill, where they have four chutes to choose from. Two-hour sessions cost $22. 
• Pats Peak Ski Area (686 Flanders Road, Henniker, tubing park is 600 feet long by 85 feet wide and offers two-hour sessions for $18 and four-hour sessions for $20. 
• McIntyre Ski Area (50 Chalet Court, Manchester, Thrill Hill has eight tubing lanes to choose from. Two-hour sessions costs $19.

Feeling social?
Try a bonfire with friends
Before you plan the ultimate bonfire party, make sure to get a fire permit from your local fire department or purchase it online. About 100 communities in the state give residents the option to purchase a fire permit for $3 online, according to Forest Ranger Captain Bryan Nowell. Keep in mind that large fires (4 feet in diameter) must be 50 feet away from any structure and can only be burned after 5 p.m. while small fires (2 feet in diameter) need to be 25 feet away from any structure and can burn any time of day. All fires must be attended to at all times and need to be completely extinguished. 
“Extinguished means emits no heat, smoke, or flame,” Nowell said in a phone interview. 
He suggested people only burn clean wood, nothing that has been demoed, painted or pressure-treated, for their health and the health of the environment. 
If the ground is covered with snow (defined as 100 feet surrounding the burning area is covered with frozen precipitation) no permit is needed. For full list of rules and regulations or to purchase a fire permit, see
Once you’ve built a proper and permitted bonfire, turn your attention to the snacks. Baker, chef and culinary instructor Bonne Cavanagh said in an email that while you can’t go wrong with the classic s’mores, it can be fun to mix up the flavors with coconut or chocolate marshmallows and chocolate or salted caramel graham crackers. 
“A big trend right now is filling sugar cones with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and s’more type items, wrapping in foil and using an indirect heating method,” she said. (Find an easy recipe for campfire cones at 
For savory items, Cavanagh recommends cheese and crackers or marinated artichokes, peppers and sausage pieces to skewer over the fire. 
“A huge hit with us are walking tacos,” she said, noting that they’re easy to do fireside. Make crockpot taco meat or chili and assemble a lineup of shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and beans. Toss your ingredients into a snack-size package of Doritos and eat it right out of the bag.
Feeling scenic?
Enjoy the cold air and snowy trees at a leisurely pace
Stephen Priest, blogger at and author most recently of Outdoor Play: Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, said that there are plenty of ways to get the benefits of being outside in the winter without exerting lots of energy. 
“There’s a lot you can do without being too athletic, not to participate but to watch,” he said in a phone interview. 
For example, Pulpit Rock in Bedford has a canyon at the end of the trail where ice climbers like to practice. 
“I’ve gone in there on snowshoes simply to watch people climbing the ice,” he said. “That’s a neat thing you don’t see very often.” 
Other spots for scenic views and outdoor walks he recommends are Horse Hill Nature Preserve in Merrimack, Peabody Mill Environmental Center in Amherst, Earl Legacy Park in Bedford and Benedictine Preserve in Bedford. 
Want something a bit more exciting? Visit the Meredith Rotary ice fishing derby, Tamworth Sled & Skijor sled dog race and ice racing events in the Lakes Region.
Feeling artsy?
Take your snowmen to the next level
When it comes to upping your snow-building game, The Myth Makers duo Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein (who compete in professional snow-carving competitions) said in an email that snow sculpture is really no different than building a snowman. 
“In a competitive setting they preload the snow into forms and let it settle overnight,” they wrote in the email. “An ambitious home carver could pile snow the night before.” 
Whether or not you preload the snow, Dodson and Moerlein said that the steps for making a snow sculpture are straightforward — rough out the form with a garden shovel, saw or ax, then refine the details with home tools like spatulas, spoons, wooden chisels and knives. 
“Be creative,” the Myth Makers suggest. “All implements respond according to the snow type. Harder snow holds better detail, softer snow packs and holds, but is less carvable.” 
If you’re looking for a figure to take on as a first-time snow sculptor, think of something in a basic snowman shape: large at the bottom and getting smaller toward the top. 
One final tip: “Plan for disasters. We do this work as The Myth Makers in professional competitions and the variability of the snow is a given. Pieces fall off [and] that makes for fast decisions.” 

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