Embracing winter

Hobbies make season sweeter

Published on January 9, 2017

Kevin Crawford sits on a snowmobile at Adventure Motors in New Glasgow. He loves getting out on the weekends to enjoy time with friends and spend time in nature.

©Adam MacInnis

A weasel, also known as an ermine, with its white fur was captured in this photo by Robert Lange, a photographer on Big Island, Pictou County.

©Robert Lange

Some people if they could would hibernate like a bear for winter.

Others have learned to embrace all the season has to offer. Here’s a look at some of those who have found a way to keep busy and have fun when snow is on the ground.

Snowmobiling

Kevin Crawford believes he was probably about three years old when he started going for rides on a snowmobile with his dad.

It’s only natural for him to get back on each year as soon as the snow falls.

Now a member of both the Dalhousie Mountain Snowmobile Club and the Pictou County Snow Riders, he enjoys getting out on the groomed trails available. He said there are four groomers – the machines used from making smooth trails – in Pictou County. They are kept busy maintaining the approximately 300 km of trails in the area. They connect with trails that a person could drive all the way to New Brunswick if they wanted.

There are also some beautiful trails in the Cape Breton Highlands he said.

He said what he enjoys most about it is the time spent with others – “Going out with the family and friends and being out in the woods.”

He also likes the fact that it gets people out of the house.

“People look forward to winter because of it. It gets you excited about winter.”

His family owns Adventure Motors where he works and he said the activity is very popular.

“It’s a real popular sport in our area.”

Snowmobiles themselves have become a lot more advanced in recent years and require little maintenance. They are also more economical on gas and can go up to 450 km on a tank.

 

Snowshoeing

If there’s snow this winter, you can bet that one of the most popular outdoor activities will be snowshoeing. For those who are curious or who received a new pair under the Christmas tree, Hike NS and its partners across the province have lined up over 50 guided snowshoe events.

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia executive director, said they’re getting more and more people out to their individual hikes and are seeing more organizations partner with them to host hikes.

“We’re also seeing more and more groups offering snowshoes to lend out or to rent.”

The Pictou Antigonish Regional Libraries as well as Trenton Park are just two places locally that people can borrow snowshoes free of charge.

She said it’s a great way to get outside in winter and is something that’s accessible to most.

“If you can walk you can snowshoe.

“The winter woods is a beautiful place,” she said. “It has this silence to it. The snow has a kind of muffled noise to it. It’s got this dark beauty to it.”

They’ve got an upcoming hike on Feb. 4 on Fitzpatrick Mtn. in Scotsburn. Participants will meet at 1 p.m. at Deb’s Hidden Café in Scotsburn and then proceed to the Cape to Cape trail to hike for 3 km to 5 km.

If the other snowshoe events are any indication, Barlow is sure there will be a good turnout.

“There’s just something about floating over the snow on snowshoes in a winter wonderland that brings people out in droves.”

 

Winter Photography

It’d be a rare sight to see Robert Lange without a camera in his hand regardless of the season. But it’s clear from looking at his Facebook page that he hasn’t let the cold temperatures keep him shuttered in his home.

Lange, who lives on Big Island, captured a rare sight for the area recently, a weasel (or ermine) wearing its white winter coat.

“First time I have seen one on Big Island in winter colour in 40 years living here,” he said. “They are brown with white belly in summer and even then rarely seen.”

He had been sitting in his truck talking with a neighbour when he saw it.

“It ran across the road and stayed long enough for me to jump out of the truck and snap six photos before it took off,” he said.

He’s also recently captured pictures of a large buck with snow on his head that he described as Rudolph heading back to the North Pole. Another favourite spot is bald eagles feeding in Bayview.

While there are often fewer animals to take pictures of in winter, there are some like the white weasel he just wouldn’t be able to capture any other time of year. Even some types of birds change their colour in winter.

With his camera and a long lens, he’s there to capture their new look.

“It’s something like a hunter looking for that special buck,” he said of his passion. “I just enjoy nature photography.”