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Declining outer temperatures seem to kindle the inner child in most adults. No doubt you know these scamps well personally, perhaps. When he thinks no one is looking, he'll fall backwards into a fresh snowbank and create a snow angel. She sends snowballs whizzing toward unsuspecting targets, or sticks out her tongue to taste snowflakes as they fall. Any incline, no matter how small, is fair game for their makeshift briefcase sleds.
Cold and snow have a way of firing up the fun inside us all. But why? You won't find the answer here – just a few ways to fan the flame.
Snowbound forests and fields provide hours of delight for those who can put one foot in front of the other without stepping on their shoes – snowshoes, that is. Clamp on a pair and ply the winter trails by day or night. On February 11 and 18, Ledge View Nature Center in Chilton offers naturalist-guided snowshoe hikes focusing on winter ecology. Bring your own shoes or rent them from the center; guides will gladly teach you how to walk all over again. See Calumet County or call (920)849-7094.
Let the moon shed light on your web walking technique at Wisconsin's state parks and forests. Many host evening candlelight snowshoe hikes: On February 10, Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau, (715)842-2522, and the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest [Clear Lake Campground, Boulder Junction, (715)385-3352] will light trails by the soft glow of wax. After your stroll, enjoy a hot chocolate or steaming apple cider. Grills provided; BYOB (Bring Your Own Brats). Bid winter a fond adieu on March 24, when Amnicon Falls State Park in Superior hosts the Vernal Equinox Candlelight Snowshoe/Hike at 7 p.m. (715)398-3000. See Department of Natural Resources for a complete list of winter candlelight events.
Should the competitive spirit inspire your winter imp, try your luck in Luck, where the New World Championship Snowshoe Races take off on February 10. Participants will hoof distances of 5K, 10K and a 20K half-marathon; look for some of the sport's top competitors from around the country to challenge Wisconsin's finest 'shoers. Races begin at 10 a.m. at the Luck Golf Course. (715)472-8231. The 15th edition of Run on Water takes place on February 10 at 11 a.m.; racers of all ages snowshoe, run or ski across frozen Lake Superior in a mad dash from Bayfield to Madeline Island and back. Call (715)779-3335 or visit Bayfield Chamber of Commerce. On the evening of February 17, make the trek from Ashland to Washburn with more than 1,700 other snowshoers and skiers as they Book Across the Bay, navigating 10K across Chequamegon Bay by star and candlelight. See Book Across the Bay or call 1-800-284-9484.
If you really want to rouse the kid within, head over to the Chanticleer Inn in Eagle River on February 18-19, where the 2nd Annual LaBatt Blue U.S. Adult Pond Hockey Championship promises to bring back those pick-up hockey games of yore, when your best friend stickhandled like Gretzky, your little sister was the neighborhood's toughest netminder, and your dog was the best puck thief on ice. Forty teams of four players each will battle it out for glory and bragging rights on six ice rinks cleared on Dollar Lake. No fair bringing your big cousin Duke from Anchorage to play defense. (715) 479-3955.