As I write this there rain is pelt­ing on the win­dows. My plans for a ski­ing week­end are melt­ing into a giant pile of mushy slush. It’s mid­win­ter, but the snow sea­son is bare­ly get­ting start­ed. News sto­ries say that win­ter Olympic venues may not have enough snow. As we chomp at the bit for ski sea­son, here are some things you can still do.

Hit the Trails…Hard
Hik­ing isn’t just a sum­mer gig. In fact, it’s bet­ter when you don’t over­heat and the trails are emp­ty. Win­ter tem­per­a­tures can be ide­al for the aer­o­bics of hik­ing or trail run­ning, just as they are for nordic ski­ing. There won’t be traf­fic jams at pop­u­lar trail­heads. Just be ready for short­er days, some rain, and mud on the trails.

If there’s not enough snow to ski there’s prob­a­bly rain, espe­cial­ly in the wet Pacif­ic North­west. Water­falls will be spew­ing water far more dra­mat­i­cal­ly than sum­mer trick­les. Even in spots of the Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge, where some areas are closed from last fall’s wild­fires, there are plen­ty of spots still open, espe­cial­ly on the Wash­ing­ton side.

Hang Out with Large Visitors
Every win­ter, gray whales migrate south from their feed­ing grounds in the Bering Sea to their warmer birthing grounds on the west coast of Mex­i­co. Go to a head­land along the west coast (make sure to dress warm). When the whales head south they tend to be a bit fur­ther off­shore than dur­ing north­bound migra­tion, so you’ll want a spot­ting scope.

Win­ter Birds
Birds gath­er in giant flocks in win­ter. Not all birds head for the trop­ics though. There are ener­gy costs and risks when fly­ing that far. Water­fowl con­gre­gate in the low­land marsh­es and riv­er mouths of North Amer­i­ca after migrat­ing south. Eagles and hawks gath­er to feed on what are lit­er­al­ly sit­ting ducks. The bare trees make it easy to spot them.

Prep the Pile
We all know the dis­or­ga­nized scram­bling of the first ski week­end. You’re try­ing to remem­ber where your wax is or real­iz­ing you pulled ski cloth­ing into dif­fer­ent piles for some oth­er trip. You also don’t know who bor­rowed your gog­gles. Get your stuff togeth­er and wax your skis now so you can grab-and-go when the time comes.

Down­hill ski­ing, snow­board­ing, nordic ski­ing, and skate-ski­ing can be a rude awak­en­ing (or an injury) if you haven’t used those mus­cles since last sea­son. Start work­ing out ear­ly. Even if you wait­ed too long for a 6‑week reg­i­men, it’s bet­ter late than nev­er, and it will train your brain too.