©istockphoto/zschnepfHere are sev­en unusu­al things you can do this win­ter to embrace the Northwest’s most maligned sea­son. How unusu­al they are, of course, depends on how unusu­al you are already.

Vary the Ski Routine
Let’s face it, while many of us wait around for the win­ters to be over, a lot of us are secret­ly hop­ing they nev­er end.  While it lasts, we rec­om­mend mix­ing up your ski rou­tine. Are you a die-hard down­hiller? Quit rid­ing the lifts and try back­coun­try free-heel tour­ing. A tried-and true cross coun­try ski­er? Inves­ti­gate skate ski­ing, or try rid­ing the lifts and see what you can do with your heels down. Go dif­fer­ent places. Do dif­fer­ent things.

Hit The Water
Pad­dling might seem like a sum­mer sport, but pad­dling is often at its best in the North­west in win­ter. White­wa­ter rivers are ris­ing after the long sum­mer drought. The Low­er Colum­bia Riv­er Water Trail, which can be crowd­ed in sum­mer, offers soli­tude, bald eagles and hordes of waterfowl.

Hang Out By the Sea
While every­one else is head­ing for the moun­tains, go the oth­er direc­tion. Head for the coast. Raw and rugged , you’ll see things you won’t often see in sum­mer: emp­ty beach­es, big storms, raw ocean pow­ers. Yes, there will be some rain. But we’re Northwesterners.

Get Wet In the Gorge
For­get the skis and go for a sim­ple hike. Lay­er on the rain gear, and don’t for­get that the Colum­bia Gorge and moun­tain foothill trails are at their best in the win­ter. The water­falls will be full, dra­mat­ic, and at their cat­a­clysmic best. Hik­ing in win­ter is just like hik­ing in sum­mer, but with more clothes and a ther­mos of tea.

Try a Weird Win­ter Sport
Go whole-hog into win­ter. Try some weird win­ter sports, like dogsled­ding, ski­jor­ing, shov­el rac­ing, ice-climb­ing or a polar bear plunge. Some of them are just strange, some require spe­cial­ized skills or gear, and may take some hunt­ing to fig­ure out how to do or what they real­ly are. But try one.

Sit On The Porch
We get a lot less fresh air in the win­ter, and that can’t be good for us. Tempt­ing as it is to hud­dle inside, make part of your morn­ing rit­u­al going out­side. Use all that fan­cy out­door tech­ni­cal cloth­ing to do the most basic of out­door activ­i­ties: sit­ting on your front porch. It will be a bit chilly at first, but you’ll be hap­pi­er the rest of the day.

Be A Kid Again
Last but far from least, redis­cov­er the win­ter you loved as a kid. For­get about care­ful­ly tun­ing your skis and go romp in the snow. Have snow­ball fights. Build snow forts. Climb up a hill and tum­ble down or slide down on a makeshift sled. Have fun. Redis­cov­er the sim­ple joys of hors­ing around out­side in the snow.