January 27, 2010
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
Snowshoes are footwear used for walking across the snow. Large, webbed "shoes" are attached to a person's boots and distribute their weight more evenly, allowing them to stay on the surface rather than sink into deep snow. Snowshoes have been used for transportation for thousands of years. Hunters of long ago needed to feed their families but found it difficult to get around in the deep snow. They watched animals like snowshoe hares move across the snow easily and created a design similar to the animal's feet. The first snowshoes were made of twigs and rawhide.
Native American tribes in New York State lived in the mountains and forests, where snowshoes were an absolute necessity for getting around in the wintertime. When the French began to move into the St. Lawrence River area in the 1600s, they observed Native Americans using snowshoes to hunt and move from one location to another. Trappers, hunters and explorers soon relied heavily on snowshoes as a method of transportation during New York winters.
Today, snowshoes are mainly used for recreation in this area. However, during the French and Indian War in the mid-1700s, Native Americans showed the French soldiers how to use snowshoes as a way to make quick raids on English settlements. During the 1758 Battle on Snowshoes near Lake George, military leaders realized that snowshoes were an important part of winter warfare and began to use them regularly.
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Dressing the Part
Snowshoes are only one part of the winter wardrobe for outdoor adventurers. The most important thing to remember when dressing to go outside is layering-wearing multiple layers of clothing rather than only one or two heavy layers. Each layer should be light enough to keep you dry and allow you to move easily. The first layer should be a material that can "breathe" so that moisture won't be trapped. The second layer is for insulation and may include several pieces of clothing. The last layer should be a windproof and waterproof jacket and a hat.
Wool is a great material to wear in the winter because it allows you to stay warm even when it is wet. It dries more quickly than cotton and sheds water rather than absorbs it. Take a cotton sweatshirt and a wool sweater, and dip the sleeves into a bowl of water. You will notice that the water travels further up the cotton clothing-which means you will get wetter and colder if you wear it outside in the winter.
Snowshoeing and Star Gazing
Winter is one of the best times to go star gazing because the cold air is often dry, which makes it easier to see the night sky. Large open spaces like parks and fields away from lights are perfect places to look for constellations. In the winter time, such large expanses of land are often covered in deep snow. With snowshoes, you can go places that you normally wouldn't be able to and get a good look at the night sky. If you don't have snowshoes and want to give the sport a try before venturing out on your own, each of DEC's education centers has snowshoes to rent and snowshoe trails to use. So pick a sunny winter day, strap on some snowshoes, and go for a walk back in time.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Nature on Skis
Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 PM
Explore Stony Kill's fields and forests as we glide along, stopping occasionally to examine plants and animals in their winter adornment. BYOS (bring your own cross-country skis).
Nature Discovery After-School Program
Thursday, February 4, 11 and 25 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM
For school-aged children and their caregivers. Discover and explore different aspects of nature at Stony Kill. It may be winter, but wildlife is still present and active. If we dress warmly, we too can enjoy the outdoors.
Saturday, February 6 at 2:00 PM
While snowshoeing, develop a new love for the natural world as we identify and discuss local winter animal species by their tracks. Please dress appropriately for the weather.
Water Animals in Winter
Saturday, January 30 at 10:00 AM
Did you ever wonder what happens to all those turtles, frogs, salamanders and insects you see in the water all summer? Come and learn where they go and what they're doing now that ice covers the ponds.
Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 PM
Find out who left that track in the snow. How long ago did the animal pass by? Where was it going, and what was it looking for? We may not see the animals, but we can learn a lot about them by studying their tracks.
Pine Needle Basket-Making
Saturday, February 6 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
With guest artist Anita Wahlen, participants will make a basket using the coiled technique of the Native American basket-makers. The technique requires concentration and patience, but participants will be rewarded with a beautiful and unique basket. Call to register. For ages 14 and up. Materials fee $30. Limited registration-first come, first served.
Friday, January 29 from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
The breeding season for barred owls, great-horned owls and screech owls, residents of the Albany Pine Bush, occurs in mid-winter during some of the coldest months of the year. Come join us for this night hike and learn about the habits of these nocturnal birds and listen for their calls. Please bring a flashlight and remember to dress warmly! Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free. Call 518-456-0655 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Bird of Prey-Owls
Saturday, January 30 at 1:00 PM
Join us for a live bird-on-hand program featuring our non-releasable education owls. Get a close-up look at the special adaptations of these Adirondack raptors. Learn about their habitats, winter survival, and human impact on bird populations.
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Saturday Movie Matinee: March of the Penguins
Saturday, January 30 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Join emperor penguins on an astonishing 70 mile journey-marching day and night in single file into the coldest continent on Earth to breed their young. This movie will be shown in the theater and popcorn will be available. Donations are suggested.
Full Moon Snowshoe Hike
Saturday, January 30 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Leave your flashlights behind and let the moon lead the way. We will observe nature at night and keep our eyes open for elusive nocturnal animals. If there is no snow, we will hike. Snowshoes will be provided. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Children: Fireside Storytelling
Saturday, February 6 at 11:00 AM
Snuggle up by the fire at the Bird Cabin and listen to tales about winter in the big woods. Bring your imagination and a pillow (appropriate for ages 3 to 10). Apple cider and popcorn will be provided. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Full Wolf Moon Walk
Friday, January 29 at 6:30 PM
Come join us for a nighttime walk and learn some facts about wolves. For adults and kids ages 10 and older.
Saturday, January 30 at 10:30 AM
Discover some of the local animals that spend their winters in hibernation and learn how their bodies get ready for their long slumber. For children ages 4 to 8.
Moonlight Cross-Country Ski Tour
Saturday, January 30 at 6:30 PM
Ski by the light of the moon! Bring your own skis or rent a pair (limited sizes). Ski rental: $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members.
Thursdays in February at 4:30 PM
A one-hour program for children in grades K-5 featuring a different, fun outdoor activity each week. No registration is required.
Where Are They? Snowshoe Walk
Saturday, February 6 at 10:30 AM
When the snow comes, where do the animals go? Find out as we search for some on this snowshoe walk. Snowshoe rental: $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members.