Get a grip this winter

Southern New Hampshire – and northern, for that matter – serves up a varied weather menu each winter. As I write this, the weather forecast is for up to a foot of snow from a coming storm. Maybe I’ll finally need snowshoes for a local hike. So far this season, all I’ve needed is a set of traction aids to strap on my sneakers or boots. Nothing as aggressive as microspikes; just a little bit of help to get over the snow-dusted ice on nearby paths.

Investing in a traction device like YakTrax or a set of Stabil cleats (both of which I’ve used) can make the difference between taking a walk at the nearest park and staying home for fear of falling on the ice. Cleats aren’t just for hill hikers.

I was recently at Horse Hill nature preserve here in town. Conditions on those trails are less than ideal: bumpy ice topped by a dusting of snow, with some pine needles sandwiched in between just to make sure things stay slippery. I found the same conditions around Lake Massabesic a day earlier. Without cleats, I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes at either place. I’m simply not as surefooted as some of my neighbors. (I’ve even been known to strap on cleats just to walk to the mailbox.)

I found my cleats at a local outlet store specializing in outdoor equipment. You can shop for them online as well.

I had the chance to head north to Waterville Valley’s Nordic ski center not long ago, with beautiful trails extending into the White Mountain National Forest. That was a glorious snowshoe hike in spite of bitter cold temps. I seldom hike where a trail pass must be purchased, but this was definitely a worthwhile trip.

If you decide to explore a Nordic center, be sure to check the facility’s website or Facebook page in advance for trail conditions and Covid adaptations.

Cross-country ski trail in White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
At Waterville Valley, groomed Nordic trails extend into the White Mountain National Forest. Ellen Kolb photo.