Ah, the winter solstice is here, that longest night and shortest day. The solstice (sols=sun; tice=stand still) occurred at 11:48 EST on Monday, December 21, 2015. This was the moment when the sun was directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere (see Figure 1). Once it reached this point, the earth started to slowly tilt northward and the days began to get longer. Because the tilting of the earth’s axis is so slow, the day length is the same (stands still) for a day or two after the winter solstice.
Then we slowly gain a minute or two of daylight each day until summer solstice (longest day) in June (Figure 2).
Winter is a great time to explore New York’s State Parks and Historic Sites. Some Parks offer opportunities to try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and, ice fishing. Bring your own skis, ice fishing gear, snowshoes, snowmobiles, or skates to create your own winter fun in a Park or Historic Site. Or take a hike go wildlife watching or attend a program. Just remember to dress for the weather and you’ll have a grand time!
Ice fishing at Grafton Lakes State Park. Photo by OPRHP.
Snowmobiling at Lake Taghkanic State Park. Photo by OPRHP.
Ice skating at Saratoga Spa State Park. Photo by OPRHP.
Want to learn how you can explore New York’s more than 10,000 miles of snowmobile trails this winter? The New York State Snowmobile Association and Grafton Trail Blazers snowmobile club are teaming up with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation at the Grafton Lakes State Park 30th Annual Winter Festival Saturday, January 24th, for “Take a Friend Snowmobiling” day. The event is a demonstration of the basics of snowmobile operation and ownership.
The New York State snowmobile trail system crisscrosses 45 counties through woods, fields, towns and our State Parks. Snowmobiling is a fun, family-friendly way to enjoy winter scenery and wildlife, especially for those with physical conditions or disabilities preventing more strenuous activities like skiing and snowshoeing. The “Take a Friend Snowmobiling” event is a great introduction to the sport for new riders or reintroduction for those who haven’t been on a snowmobile in years, and an opportunity for current snowmobilers to meet and share their interests.
Representatives from the New York State Parks Snowmobile Unit, the State Snowmobile Association, and the Grafton Trail Blazers snowmobile club will be on hand to answer all of your snowmobiling questions and provide short demonstration rides, conditions permitting.
The event will be held at the playground near the main parking lot from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Necessary equipment will be provided, but participants are urged to dress appropriately for outdoor weather conditions. Anyone age 16 and older is welcome to join (if conditions permit snowmobile operation, youth ages 16-17 must have a valid safety certificate to operate). Another “Take a Friend Snowmobiling” event will be held at Delta Lake State Park on February 8th, with more details to be announced.