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Enjoy the Maine outdoors this winter

Shannon Bryan has ways to enjoy the winter while getting outdoors.

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. National Toboggan Championships
Friday-Sunday, Feb. 6-8. Camden Snow Bowl, Camden. $30 per person.

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A toboggan and a funny team name are the necessary tools for the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. This annual event pits 2, 3, and 4-person teams against each other on the Camden Snow Bowl’s 400-foot chute, where many toboggans to reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour. This is one of Maine’s most-memorable winter events - from the racing to the costumes. It’s a great spectator sport, too, with plenty of food and revelry in “Tobogginville” all weekend.

Ski Swim Sauna at Bethel Inn Resort
Every day but Saturdays and holidays. Bethel Inn Resort, Bethel. $28.

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Cross-country skiing, an outdoor heated pool and the splendid sweat of an end-of-day sauna. It’s a winter trifecta that combines a bit of outdoor activity with plenty of well-deserved relaxation. And then more relaxation. Toss in a pit stop at the tavern for a beer and a burger and you’ve got yourself a day worth writing home about. The ski-swim-sauna package is offered by the clever folks at Bethel Village Trails at the Bethel Inn Resort – they understand how the addition of an outdoor heated pool makes every adventure even better. Especially in the winter.

Ice Climbing 

All winter long. $70-$275 per person depending on group size. 

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Swinging an ice axe does feel pretty amazing, and climbing ice isn’t as tough as you’d think. It will challenge you, mentally and physically, but ice climbing is also a sport open to beginners. The guides at Equinox Guiding Service will teach you how to swing that axe and some basics in climbing technique, and then you’re off to scale a wall of ice! Half-day and full-day trip available for groups of all sizes.

Super Sauna Saturday

4-6 p.m. Saturdays. Nurture Through Nature Retreat Center, 77 Warren Road, Denmark. $15, $10 students.

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A sauna in the woods awaits at Nurture Though Nature, a retreat center located in Denmark. The center offers group retreats and workshops, yoga, and eco-cabin and yurt rentals. They also have a Finnish-style wood-fired sauna. (SAUNA!) That sauna is open to the public every Saturday from 4-6 p.m. October through March. They call it Super Sauna Saturday and it is excellent. Maybe pair it with a winter hike at nearby Pleasant Mountain!

Ride the SnowCoach up Mt. Washington 

Tours daily all winter. Great Glen Trails, Gorham, New Hampshire. $55. 

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Enjoy Mt. Washington views without having to hike all the way up there! Ride the SnowCoach up the Mt. Washington Auto Road (not all the way to the summit – the weather’s too cagey for that) and then enjoy a leisurely snowshoe back down. The SnowCoach is a 12-passenger van that’s been outfitted with what are essentially tank tracks. It's a 35-minute ride up to the turn-around point at 4,200 feet (the actual summit is 6,288) and the trek down takes a couple of hours at a leisurely pace.

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