Kicking the Bucket: Upper Valley Activities to Cross Off Your List Before the Snow Melts

Dartmouth students discuss their 22W bucket lists and winter term philosophies.

by Meghan Powers | 1/12/22 2:05am

floater_sledding_by_paula_kutschera

A student takes a study break and goes sledding on the golf course.

by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth Staff

After six weeks of winterim, the holiday season has come to an end, and Dartmouth students find themselves at the beginning of a new year and a new term. Summer has its sunshine, fall has its foliage and the infamous Hanover winter has its Seasonal Affective Disorder

In order to combat the cold, Dartmouth students often plan ahead to make the most of winter term. Madeleine Grussing ’23, for example, has compiled quite the bucket list.

“Funnily enough, it’s not actually called ‘Winter Term Bucket List,’” she said. “It’s actually called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder Mitigation.’”

This winter, Grussing plans to tackle a host of activities, both indoor and outdoor. Operation Seasonal Affective Disorder Mitigation includes, but is not limited to: ice skating on Lake Morey in Vermont, hosting a hot chocolate and board games night and watching the sun rise from the top of Leverone Field House, likely towards the end of a Lou’s Challenge all-nighter.

As a junior, Grussing has been able to develop her 22W strategy with the help of winters past, but freshmen are determined to enjoy their first year on campus, too. Especially for underclassmen, there’s a lot of pressure to have fun, find your footing and survive days where the forecast drops to the single digits. Selen Kazmirci ’25 has gotten some advice from older students on handling her first Hanover winter: “Spend as little time as possible outside.”

This strategy has its appeal, but Kazmirci is also looking forward to enjoying some of the quintessential outdoor activities that Dartmouth has to offer.

“I heard people go sledding with Foco trays, but they don’t have those right now [due to COVID restrictions], Kazmirci said. “In Turkey, we used to go sledding with plastic bags, but I haven’t been in years.”

Kazmirci is also looking forward to visiting the Dartmouth Skiway and learning to ice skate, but her winter term bucket list has to answer to her course load, which includes CHEM 5 this term.

“It’s hard to find time [for winter activities], but I’m convinced that if I really want to do something, I will plan it,” she said. 

Nik Morgan ’23 also has big plans for this winter. Morgan, who serves as risk manager for the Dartmouth Outing Club and plans to go professional with mountaineering in the near future, highly recommends winter hiking.

“I really like hiking in the winter because you get a lot of cool weather patterns,” Morgan said. “You get a lot of dangerous ones, too, and you get views you wouldn’t normally get. The snow is really cool to be around.”

For Morgan, one of the lesser-known advantages of winter hikes is the opportunity that they provide for an activity she refers to as “butt-sliding.”

“Towards the end of winter term, you can butt-slide down trails,” she said. “Frank Ridge, for example, is really steep in one area and you can slide for about 150 feet. Just get on your butt and make yourself a luge run out of the trail.”

Morgan noted that Frank Ridge is a pretty advanced trail, but beginners need not worry. There’s plenty of sliding potential anywhere that snow meets an incline.

“It’s pretty much the best mode of transportation,” Morgan said.

Grussing has a similar item on her “Mitigation” plan, though she has deemed it a “winter slip n’ slide,” for which she has scouted Mount Cardigan as a possible location.

“I don’t have any of the equipment,” Grussing said. “I know I can rent it through the DOC, but realistically, I’m going to go in Nike Air Force Ones and see how it goes.”

Another one of Grussing’s bucket list items involves the annual Winter Carnival ice sculpture contest.

“I am entering the ice sculpture contest for Winter Carnival because I would like to lose it,” she said. “Regardless of how good or bad your sculpture is, they have to present it. And people will have to walk by it every day. I have zero history, I have done no design work, I am not an art student, but I think I’m going to take a creative approach.”

What the sculpture will be is still a mystery, though Grussing says she is open to suggestions.

“Maybe I’ll just make a bust of myself, and then I’ll be on the Green,” she said.

Kazmirci’s winter term philosophy doesn’t involve ice sculpting, but as a ’25, she’s conscious of the need to be more intentional about her free time in her second term at Dartmouth.

“Last term, I feel like I wasn’t actively doing anything to have fun,” Kazmirci said. “I’d do classes and then talk to people when I saw them and passively have fun. This term, I’m trying to plan things more, because I started to feel like I was getting into the same cycle.”

One indoor activity on Kazmirci’s bucket list is an offer no one could refuse.

“I’d like to do more movie nights in the common room with my friends,” she said. “I’ve never watched all The Godfathers — they seem like winter movies.”

As seasoned veterans of Dartmouth winters, Grussing and Morgan have plenty of other items they’re hoping to check off this term: penguin sliding on Occom, taking a full-day nap in the Tower room, cross-country skiing and buying a Whaleback night skiing pass are all on the table.

Grussing pondered creating custom T-shirts with her face on them to celebrate completing her bucket list, but ultimately, the list is only a means to an end.

“In every term, some of your best memories come from things you plan far in advance that you’re excited about, but the even more fun things come from things you haven’t planned,” she said. “It’s what, day four of winter term? So, who knows what it’s going to hold? If I do all of these planned things, my theory is that they’ll spiral into other things.”

For Morgan, too, the hype and dread inspired by the coldest days at Dartmouth conceal the fact that there’s a very simple philosophy at the heart of a successful winter term.

“I think the biggest thing in the winter is having a good group of friends who are willing to do crazy things with you,” she said. “People who say, ‘I would love to roll around in the snow for an hour.’”

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