Thursday, November 29, 2012

Faces of Nature Winter To-Do List

It's that time of year again – the sun has left and we here in the Pacific Northwest are left with a mixture of cold, rainy, slushy and snowy weather. But this is no reason to stop hanging out with nature! We've compiled a list of some of our favorite exciting, creative, adventurous, and fun outdoor winter activities to keep you exhilarated even under gray skies!

Decorate Trees for Birds
A tree decorated with edible treats for birds.
Credit: Debh2u/Flickr Creative Commons

The Fall and Winter seasons bring a number of birds to the Northwest, but sometimes finding food can be harder for birds in the winter. This winter activity is a triple whammy. Start your activity by bird watching. You can visit a National Wildlife Refuge or even view your own backyard to check out what kinds of bird species you can find. Spend some time learning about each one with a friend or family member. Once you're knowledgeable about your local birds, grab some supplies from outside, like pine cones, and gather foods that birds love (peanut butter, fruits, seeds). Choose a tree that you’ve spotted birds in, and start decorating! Use twine to hang peanut butter covered pine cones and fruits from branches. Finally, sit back and watch your neighborhood birds flock in for a sweet treat! Take notes if you see any you recognize!

Yurt Camping
A yurt cabin, great for winter time camping!
Credit: Justin Miller/Flickr Creative Commons
Camping is one of the best outdoor activities for all ages and groups, but tent camping in the winter seasons can get quite rainy and chilly in the Northwest. Instead of tents – look into yurt camping! Yurts are circular structures that are somewhat of a mixture between a tent and a cabin. They have been used for centuries and offer an insulated and weather proof shelter! They have become a popular form of camping in the Pacific Northwest. Check below to find information about yurts in your state parks!

Hawaii (you can probably just head to the beach).

Puddle Splashing
Puddle Stomping at Tualatin River NWR
Credit: Tualatin River NWR/USFWS
If it's not snowing here in the winter seasons – it's raining. Heading outdoors only to get soaked is usually no fun, but with the proper gear and planning, getting your boots wet can be a blast. The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) hosts Puddle Stompers each year during Portland’s rainy season where kids and families can visit the refuge geared up for rain (for more information and dates on this year's events please contact the refuge at 503-625-5944). The refuge provides rain gear for the little ones and they are off to make a splash! Find similar programs in your area or get suited up in your own gear and do some splashing in your own neighborhood.

Snow Animals
A creative way to switch up the ordinary winter snowmen building!
Credit: Ryan Howley/Flickr Creative Commons
If your winter weather is full of snow, try taking that old tradition of snowman building and making it a bit more interesting! Begin by choosing or learning about an interesting animal. Find a photo (or a stuffed animal) of the animal you choose and head outside. Instead of building Frosty, try your hand at building your animal in the snow! Don't forget to also give it eyes, a nose and a mouth in whatever creative way you can think of!

Seasonal Collage
Seasonal photo collage. A great way to be creative in nature
throughout the year!
Credit: Aunt Owwee/Flickr Creative Commons
Begin a year-long photography project that, when finished, will give you a beautiful piece of art to keep for yourself or share with a friend or family member! First, find an outdoor space that you enjoy year-round. Next, gather your artistic tools (camera, pencils paints). Then, head to your chosen location and create your own snapshot of the area at its current stage. Come back again each season to the same location and take a new snapshot. At the end of the year, turn your four snapshots into a beautiful collage of the seasons!

Snow shoeing can be a great activity whether out on a trail or in your
own front yard!
Credit: Mel Issa/Flickr Creative Commons
If you love trail hiking, don't let the winter weather get you down. If your favorite trail gets covered in snow this winter, no problem! Many places during the winter will rent out snowshoes and even provide guided trails. Investigate trails near you, you're sure to find one for all different ages and experience levels! Worst case scenario, if you don't want to travel out too far, strap on some snow shoes and take a walk around the block!

If you happen to be in the Leavenworth, Washington area – check out this exciting snowshoeing event at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery!

For the Extreme Adventurers
A fire lookout on Granite Mountain Trail, Washington and shot of
one of the great, scenic views that comes with it.
Credit: Ryan Laferty
Did you know that during the winter seasons the U.S. Forest Service rents out their fire lookouts? Many of the lookouts require a snowshoe hike to get to, and require boiling of snow for safe drinking water. If you are looking to really get away and into nature during the winter, and have a big sense of adventure, this may be your perfect winter activity! For more information on fire lookout rentals, locations and safety tips, please visit the Pacific Northwest Forest Service's site.

We hope you get a chance to try at least one of these winter activities! If you have other ideas, please share with us! And if you do get out to try these, let us know how it went!

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