New Englanders, Sharpen Your Skills in the Shoulder Season

Got the shoulder season blues? The forecast is in inches, but unfortunately the call is for rain. The spectacular foliage is now just a faded memory. And, worst of all, everything—from your morning latte to your evening brew—has taken on a questionable scent and hue referred to as “spiced pumpkin.”

Hang in there, New Englanders! Snow-covered trails are just around the bend. In the meantime, shoulder season is a great time to sharpen your skills, boost your knowledge and hone your safety know-how. Here are a few classes offered by leaders in preserving, appreciating and enjoying the great outdoors of New England.

Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills

When: Saturday, November 1 and Saturday, November 22, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: Rocky Woods, Medfield, MA

Cost: REI member $65./Non-member $85.

In this beginner-level class, specialists from the REI Outdoor School will teach wilderness survival techniques, focusing on three-season skills that could prove to be life-saving. You will learn practical tips and strategies including how to respond in an emergency, make an emergency shelter, locate and access drinking water, and make your own emergency kit.

Your class will also participate in interactive scenarios to practice these new skills. This class is designed for anyone who spends time outdoors. Find out more at Trustees of Reservations.

Snowshoeing in front of Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch. Credit: Herb Swanson, Courtesy of AMC

Snowshoeing in front of Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch.
Credit: Herb Swanson, Courtesy of AMC.

AMC Boston Chapter Winter Hiking Program 2014-15

Where: Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston, MA and White Mountains, NH

When: November 5, 2014 – December 10, 2014, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Cost: $55 Member/$60 Non-member

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Winter Hiking Program teaches best practices for winter hiking and backpacking in New England. This program includes five nights of lectures, small group breakout sessions, and the chance to check out backpacking gear and then take on a winter hike.

Topics covered include choosing thermal layers, group hiking techniques, nutrition, winter travel and snowshoeing, winter safety and injury prevention. Add to that training on above tree-line hiking, non-technical use of ice axe and crampons, understanding winter weather, camping techniques and equipment, backcountry food prep and more. It’s all you’ve ever wanted to know about getting away from it all while being comfortable and prepared.

You can learn more at

REI Snowshoeing Basics

Where: REI, Boston, MA

When: November 8, 2014, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Cost: Free

If you haven’t stomped yet, this can be your season. Join an REI specialist on the basics of snowshoeing. They’ll go over the proper equipment including shoes and clothing. And because they are local, they can point out great places to get started whether you are a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete trying to up your winter game. Now all that’s needed is a good Nor’easter.

Photo source: SOLO Wilderness Medicine School

Photo source: SOLO Wilderness Medicine School.

SOLO Wilderness First Aid

Where: Green Mountain Club Visitor Center, Waterbury, VT

When: December 6 – 7, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Cost: $180

In this two-day, hands-on class, you will learn to handle medical emergencies in the field. Learn how to improve safety and recognize and treat backcountry injuries and illnesses.

Participants will receive Wilderness First Aid certification or Wilderness First Responder re-certification upon completion. This class is taught by experienced instructors from the Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO). SOLO, founded in New Hampshire in the 1970s, developed one of the country’s first wilderness emergency medicine courses.

Find out more at the Green Mountain Club or SOLO.

Navigating with A GPS Clinic

Where: L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, Burlington, MA

When: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

Cost: Free

There are hundreds of GPS trackers on the market ranging from $60 to more than $600. Join experts from the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School in helping demystify these tech tools. Learn what features and functions to look for whether you are a casual hiker, endurance athlete, or backcountry explorer.

This class is offered at several other locations throughout the New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions. To find out more, check out L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools.

Infant Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud courtesy of

Infant Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud courtesy of

“Night Sky” at the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium

Where: Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, VT

When: Daily, 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Cost: $2 per person/$5 per family

Sure, most of us can point out the Big Dipper. But do you know what constellation it belongs to? Head to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium to find out what makes a constellation and how to identify them.

The “Night Sky” is a 30-minute tour of all things heavenly–the stars, planets and constellations. It is held daily at the museum’s Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, named for the astrophysicist of Hubble Space Telescope fame.

Eyes on Owls

Where: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Holderness, NH

When: Saturday, November 22, 2014, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 Member/$12 Non-member

Another incredible gift of the winter sky is the nocturnal owl. The “Eyes on Owls” program provides an intimate look at these elusive birds. You’ll learn about their habitat and hunting skills. The program includes a slide presentation and viewing of live owls not able to survive in the wild.

Participants will learn field marks and key signs of owl activity. No presentation is complete without a lesson in hooting. Whooo wouldn’t find this engaging?

Visit Squam Lakes Natural Science Center to learn more.

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