The Snowshoe Almanac – January 2006

Jan. 1: Six people will help Herm Hoffman celebrate the New Year. The Vermonter has hiked or snowshoed every Jan. 1 for about 10 years. He’s taking six people along, as part of a Green Mountain Club event. No word on the club’s Web site where he’s going.

Jan. 3: This is a good time of year in Maine to listen for great horned owls, according to Maine Audubon. They’ll call in the night forest because they are often mating in early January.

Jan. 8: Southeastern Quebec, northern New England and northern New York were in the throes of the worst ice storm on record on this date in 1998. After the power came back on a week or more after the storm in some spots, winter trail enthusiasts spent the rest of the winter clearing shattered, fallen trees from the trails.

Jan. 13 For those who want to get away from the men for awhile, the Warner Nature Center northeast of St. Paul, Minn. holds a women-only snowshoe excursion from 7-10 p.m. Costs are $8 to $10. A similar event is held Jan. 14 at the Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center in New Hampshire. Cost there is $15

Jan. 14: You’ve hiked and camped in the summer. Now try it in the winter. The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Heart Lake Program Center is offering a winter camping course. Snowshoe deep into the Adirondaks on northern New York and learn the fundamentals of equipment, nutrition, low impact camping and safety. Also, the full “Hunger Moon” is today.

Jan. 15: Take a close look at nibbled off shrubs and fruit trees during snowshoe excursions in the East this time of year, according to Massachusetts Audubon. Deer leave nipped-off twigs with ragged edges. Mass. Audubon says twigs chewed off cleanly are a sign of rabbits

Jan. 19: Along the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains and in the high plains, Chinook winds sometimes hit. These “snow eater” westerly winds, warmed by compression, can cause some dramatic thaws. On this date in 1892 the temperature at Fort Assiniboine, Mt. rose from minus 5 to 37 above in 15 minutes.

Jan. 20: On average, the temperatures in the nation reach their lowest level around this date. In 1954, it was 69.7 below in Rogers Pass, Mt.

Jan. 21: If there’s deep snow in Colorado, look for evidence of “yarding” if you’re out on snowshoes, according to Gorp.com, the resource for outdoor recreation. Deer and elk will gather in a forest opening, trampling the snow for ease of movement. Of course, the food often runs out, and the animals are easily spooked away by dogs or other predators.

Jan. 23. The coldest day in the United States, too cold for snowshoeing, was on this date in 1971 when the temperature reached minus 79.8 degrees at Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska. Quite literally on the bright side, though, the sun rises in Barrow, Alaska today for the first time since Nov. 19. Barrow is the nation’s northernmost town.

Jan. 24. January thaws, on average, are most likely to hit at around this time of month. In the East on a warm day, look for honey bees floating lazily by. They’re on a bathroom break. They awake from their hibernation on warmish winter days to do this.

Jan. 31: Oh, to be snowshoeing in Tamarack, California in 1911. In January of that year, the town was buried in 390 inches, of 32.5 feet of snow.

About the author

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Matt Sutkoski

Matt Sutkoski is a freelance writer and a staff reporter for the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press. He also operates a small property maintenance business. In his spare time he enjoys recreational snowshoeing, trail running and hiking.