Short days call for short getaways

Capital District options abound for a snowbound escape

It's nearly February. There's been fewer than 10 hours of daylight for more than two months. The temperature stays stubbornly below the freezing point. The twinkling lights are packed away, the Christmas cookies stale and weeks of sitting by the fire are morphing into an acute case of cabin fever.

So what's a snowbound Capital District resident to do? Well, for those who are looking for some local outdoor fun in the colder months, snowshoeing can offer a relatively cheap and easy escape from the doldrums.

Unlike downhill skiing (mostly centered dozens of miles away) or its cross country cousin, snowshoeing doesn't take hardly any practice, requires limited equipment and can be practiced almost anywhere with a good settling of snow.

That said, buying snowshoes is not an insignificant investment. If buying, expect to spend $100 or more for an adult pair, with many high-end models eclipsing the $200 mark. Most area outdoor retailers carry snowshoes in the winter season, including Eastern Mountain Sports (in Mohawk Commons, Stuyvesant Plaza and in Saratoga Springs) and LL Bean in Colonie Center.

Luckily many retailers, including those two, also rent shoes for full- or half-days, so novices can have a chance to try out the sport. There's no excuse to not get back into nature this winter, so the following are some great local locations to hit the trail or field.

Some favorite snowshoeing grounds will rent equipment on site, making an outing even easier. The Fiver Rivers Environmental Education Center in New Scotland, for example, offers rentals and holds periodic learn to snowshoe walks with the center's staff.

Five Rivers is also holding a "Gloomiest Day" walk on Saturday, Jan. 29. The 23rd is generally considered the gloomiest day of the year for a number of reasons, including the arrival of holiday bills and lack of sunlight, and taking a walk in the woods can be a good way to perk things up.

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