Embracing Winter

Excited about my day out!

Excited about my day out!

Today I got to go on a fantastic field trip with the 5th graders.  Now when this trip was announced…I knew I’d be the one going and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go.  It’s an all-day, outdoor trip in winter.  See where I’m going here?   I did tell myself that I have to try and do this…sort of a “bucket list” item.  Let’s just say, I’m not the “outdoorsy” type, especially in winter.    I’m so glad I went,  because we had a great time and I really enjoyed the fresh air.  The weather was perfect at 30 degrees (not 10 below, which I was afraid of) and we even had some snow flurries at the beginning of our outing, which made a for a gorgeous backdrop out in nature.   It was really pretty.

Walking the trails to get to the treasure!

Walking the trails to get to the treasure!

We started our day out by learning how to do Geocaching.  The kids got a GPS unit and had to learn how to program their coordinates.  Then they were shown how to use the compass, and it would direct us to our treasure.  Pretty cool technology.

Our GPS device.

Our GPS device.

In Geocaching, the rules are simple…you find the treasure, take something out, and put something of your own, back in.  This keeps the fun going and you never know what you’ll find in one of these “treasure boxes.”  This is done all over the world and you can look them up online and see if one is near you.  Also a great idea for vacations.  So we headed down the trail and into the woods to find our hidden box.  Once we found the treasure, the kids got a chance to hide something as well.  They divided into two teams and hid their items and marked the coordinates on their GPS devices.  Then they switched devices and had the other team go find the colored swim noodle that they buried.  They had a good time doing that.  What kid doesn’t want to find and hide a treasure!   They couldn’t go far, so this activity didn’t take long to find but it gave them some experience of their own.  One thing I forgot to mention…when we found our treasure, they opened the box and it was empty!  Apparently, someone at the park forgot to put the medallion in it this morning before we got there.  Kind of funny, especially after the guide explained that you always find something inside.  oops~

We found it!

We found it!

Burying their own treasure~

Burying their own treasure~

Next we took a break around the fire pit while our guide educated us on what is known as a Quinzhee, and that we would be building one today.

The fire smelled wonderful as we sat & enjoyed it.

The fire smelled wonderful as we sat & enjoyed it.

Any guesses on what this is?  I will tell you.  Quinzhees are typically built on a flat area where snow is in abundance. Builders break up any snowdrifts or naturally formed piles to reduce the risk of collapse due to different amounts of sintering that can occur. Snow is typically piled 6 to 10 feet high then left for 3 to 8 hours to sinter. Quinzhees typically have an inside height after excavation which allows for sitting or crouching but not standing. Many builders insert small sticks of the same length, approximately 10 inches (25 cm), into the top of the structure to be used as a guide when digging out the interior.   This activity was a lot of work, but the kids seemed to enjoy it the most.  This is definitely a group activity that the kids had to work together on.  I sort of sat back & took pictures and volunteered my services by pointing to where they should dig.  ha~

Our Quinzhee

Our Quinzhee

Filling sleds w/snow helped the process.

Filling sleds w/snow helped the process.

Digging an entryway wasn't easy.

Digging an entryway wasn’t easy.

Final step...putting the sticks in.

Final step…putting the sticks in.

After we finished our first two activities, it was lunch time.  We sure needed the break and were allowed inside to enjoy our lunches, a chair for me, and bathroom breaks.  We needed to refuel before heading back outside.

It was time for our last event of the day….show-shoeing.  We had already spent three hours on our other activities and I thought to myself…”okay, I want to go home now!” but once I got my snow shoes on, I was loving it!  The snow had stopped, the wind dyed down and we had this beautiful landscape ahead of us.  It was time to hike around the trails, look for animal tracks and have some fun.  Before we headed out, we had another “educational” class on the history of snow shoes.  I was a bit scared when I saw these snowshoes laying out on the floor.  I thought to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding!  That’s what we’re wearing?”  Then the guide started telling us that these are just for show and not the real things that we’d be wearing.  I’m pretty sure I let out a sigh.   She told us that the earliest signs of snow shoes, dates back 6,000 years ago.  Wow!  Most were made out of wood, animal skins and animal intestines.  Luckily, ours were plastic and metal….and much smaller.   No animal intestines present.  whew~

These things are huge!

These things are huge!

Equipment is on~

Equipment is on~

The guides had the kids line up in a row and had races in their snow shoes.  They actually ran, hopped and walked backwards in these things.  Most were falling down, show shoes were flying up in the air, and kids were rolling in the snow.  But they came up smiling and laughing through it all.  That was hilarious and such fun to watch.   We ended our day just casually walking through the woods, listening to the birds and enjoying the fresh air.

Ready, set, go!

Ready, set, go!

Here we go!

Here we go!

Through the woods~ beautiful.

Through the woods~ beautiful.

My autistic friend that I got to spend the day with.  He did a fabulous job & hung in there the whole day~

My autistic friend that I got to spend the day with. He did a fabulous job & hung in there the whole day~

Today I became a fan of show shoeing.  I would love to do this sometime with my family.  We love to take hikes in the fall, and I believe they would enjoy this as well.  Of course, It would need to be at least 30 degrees out!   Taking this trip has made me enjoy winter more and I guess you could say, I embraced winter.  Thank you Elizabeth for sending me!  🙂

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