Even native New Englanders have gaps in their areas of supposed expertise.
In winter, we grapple collectively with light deficiency, black ice, stalled cars, and super cold, with varying degrees of good and bad grace, but overall we’re fairly secure in our grasp of winter, despite the tendency of weather forecasters to spin each winter storm as a snowy Armageddon.
Lucky for us, to balance things out, we have also perfected the art of winter play, day or night.
From ice fishing, skating, and cross-country skiing, to sledding, ice gliding, snowboarding, and downhill racing, there’s a sport for just about every skill level.
We know winter. And most of us are generally familiar with at least one or two types of winter sports. But every now and then…
…we try something new. And that’s what keeps winter fresh.
Ski resorts are getting awfully creative with their offerings these days, so even those of us who aren’t the most graceful skiers or snowboarders have options. And that’s what we tried out last week.
Skiing is serious business. Snow tubing is not.
The fact that the two can coexist, side by side, at a ski resort is fantastic. The skilled and the unskilled are sharing the slopes, and who’s to say who’s having more fun?
Less than an hour’s travel from home, we were pulling into the parking lot at Pats Peak in Henniker, NH. This adorable, family-built, -owned, and -run ski resort looks like a place where hobbits would go to ski—the old-time Tyrolean vibe mixes with jazzy skis lined up like swizzle sticks at the foot of the mountain. Four Patenaude brothers put the place together 50 years ago, with retro-cool ski lodges constructed from trees cleared from the mountain. It’s no stick-in-the-mud ski resort, either—26 trails, assorted glades, night skiing, and terrain parks, but that’s not why we’re here.
We’re here to tube. And most of us have never gone before.
We’re a mixed group, ranging from a couple of fearless top-notch downhill racers, to a few of us who vote green every time, and one lovely resident of Hawaii who had never seen snow before this trip East. In other words, we are the full spectrum.
Snow tubing, let me make it clear, requires practically no skills whatsoever.
After the first run, the fear of the unknown has been removed, and you’re free to concentrate on the essentials. Holding on to your tube. Throwing yourself down the slide when the monitor kid tells you to. Avoiding the snow banks to the right and left of the run, unless you want to bounce. Riding up the lift and climbing out of your tube with some speck of grace (those who made it look easy put us all to shame).
Apart from that, grin and enjoy the wind blowing through your teeth and the scratchy sound of compressing snow under your donut. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s certainly something that at one time in my life I would have mocked.
By the way, we’re way too quick to jump on that bandwagon these days. Mocking can flatten out all the fun like a pancake. So here’s the takeaway from this little winter experience. Get out in the cold. Find something fun and unexpected to do in your own back yard. Something you’d never dream of doing. Don’t just shovel it. Play in it.
It can change the way you feel about winter.
Have you ever enjoyed snow tubing at Pats Peak?
Pats Peak. 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, NH. 603-428-3245; patspeak.comThis post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.