Outdoor winter activities guide for cold weather newcomers

You're new here. So, let me fill you in on a little local secret: winter can sometimes feel as though it may never end.... never. You will at some point find yourself lost in a frigid cloud of icy fog praying for a ray of sunshine and a warm breeze unless you have a lineup of go-to outdoor winter activities to get you through. Follow this newcomers' guide so you'll know what to do and what to wear to avoid being blinded by winter's icy glare.

Maple syrup tapping:

Once you've got your barn coat, boiling down the sap is simple. Just kidding. Grab a heavy duty pair of gloves and prepare to carry a lot of buckets. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. But, at least you’ll have lots of trees to pick from, considering the main producer of syrup is our state tree, the sugar maple.

You'll also want a down vest, long underwear, thick blue jeans, insulated boots, boot socks, a scarf, and a stocking hat, to stay warm while you’re out there getting that sap. It’s a lot of work in the cold, but boy that syrup is sure delicious when the work is done.

Holiday lights zoo touring:

The goal is to stay warm, while not looking like you've escaped from the orangutan enclosure while viewing the holiday lights at the zoo. For that, you'll need lots of layers and a few heavy hitters in your wardrobe.

Start with an untucked flannel shirt, but if it’s really cold, feel free to throw a silk or thermal long sleeve shirt underneath. Layer a cable sweater over it. Fold the cuffs up. Then throw on a pair of skinny jeans that slide easily into some knee high waterproof insulated boots. Top it off with a mid-thigh length down coat with a warmer rating. Grab your hat and gloves and you’re there. Zoo? Don't mind if I do!

Ice cave spelunking:

Get ready to see some true winter beauty. Spelunking is fun, but you need to be dressed for a little bit of everything when you do it. The ice is very slippery, so it’s important to have a good pair of insulated waterproof winter boots with really good tread. Put on a thick pair of wool socks to make sure your feet stay warm and dry.

A pair of snow pants will protect you from the wet interior of the cave. Put a pair of long underwear on before you layer on the flannel shirt and leggings. It’s a lot of physical effort to go spelunking in an ice cave, so having a wicking layer of silk underwear to keep your clothes from getting damp is always a plus. Also, layering up is always a smart winter tactic, take the layers off if you get too warm from all the hiking and layer back up when the chill gets to be too much.

Ice fishing:

Ice fishing is a great Wisconsin past time. We take advantage of our heritage as the land of lakes (and the frigid temperatures that freeze our lakes solid). The real secret to ice fishing is to dress in as many waterproof layers as is humanly possible. It’s going to be cold out there and you’re going to be sitting for a long while.

You'll need insulated waterproof gloves, a warm, waterproof winter coat with large pockets, a layered turtleneck and fleece to keep your core warm, flannel lined jeans or long underwear with blue jeans over top, boot socks, waterproof boots, and a good hat to keep your head covered. Then you just sit back and listen for the bell without worrying about freezing while you wait.

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