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Cabin Fever- How we made our snow tunnel

Ever since I was six years old, I dreamed about making tunnels.  My first grade teacher Mrs. Hall announced to our class that she was leaving Texas to live in Wisconsin.  I distinctly recall her saying that in this great state kids made snow tunnels.  That fascinated me, since the most snow I had seen in TX was about 2 inches.  We moved to NJ when I was 8, and although we had some great snowstorms, that snow tunnel idea never came to fruition.

30 years and 3 kids later, the snow drift that remained after the December 26th blizzard was staring at us through our kitchen screen door with the play house just a few feet away.  A perfect end to a snow tunnel..

Pre-snow tunnel

The view into our deck outside the kitchen on the morning of December 28th 2010

My husband went back to work, and I was trying to wean them off the Wii that they got for Christmas. I never made a snow tunnel before, but I brought up the idea to my kids if they would want to do it.  Matthew, my 4y old, was particularly excited about it, so that was settled.

Then my worry gene kicked in, with all the reasons not to do it.

What if it caves in?

What if I hit his head with the shovel trying to get a boy out of the snow?

What if I get trapped, will the boys be too distracted with the Wii to help out mama?

Why didn’t I take an outdoor survival course?

Why aren’t there more articles about making snow tunnels?

So I started googling, came up with tips on snow caves, an ehow on how to do it, and some other interesting youtube ones, that included a child using her head to make a snow tunnel. I then realized, I can do this, the tunnel is not even 4 feet long, there isn’t that much snow, I can wiggle out of this if needed and my kids are pretty good when it comes to following instructions as long as they are followed by threats.

So to start, the most important thing was to pack the snow around the area before beginning.  Since we pretty much were inundated with snow getting to the back of the house is nearly impossible, so I had the brilliant idea of climbing out the bathroom window.

Snow Drift outside bathroom window

The view to our deck from bathroom window

Before climbing though, I equipped myself with long cardboard leftover from Christmas boxes (amazon, beer boxes).

My plan was to step on the  boxes (like snow shoes) to compact the snow around the area so that the boys had a safe place to stand.

I don’t need them being traumatized of falling through a snow drift. I made a note also not to use shiny cardboard, that was way too slippery. the long cardboard boxes worked great since

After I did that, and had a good size area.. I made sure I was safe to stand in the area.  The kids were ok’d to climb out through the window and onto the deck.  They helped me compact the rest of the snow.  Once it was compacted, I added some more at the top of the would-be tunnel and compacted that.

Well I guess I should’ve thought of opening the screen door before compacting it all, since now I couldn’t get it opened.

Stuck Screen door..

Stuck Screen Door

Back to the outside, I chiseled out the area and track where the screen door slides, and success!  The fun part was diggin out the snow, (serving spoons work great) and using one of those big plastic storage container lids to dump it in the bathtub.  I let Matthew do the first part, and then I got a bit worried of him getting stuck so I did the rest.

digging a snow tunnel

Snowtunnel dig

A side benefit to this, the kids had a blast playing with their toy story characters in the bathtub.

I marked out the path with some straws (2 colored ones taped end to end) to make sure we were going the right way. I’m directionally challenged.   You can also use it to make sure you have the desired thickness. I was happy to make it so that there was some light peeking through.

snow tunnel

It was really fun, and the kids loved it, and it is even better with a few more holes, they are like little gophers now.. even if you don’t try to do a snow tunnel, snow in the bathtub was the best part!!

2 comments to Cabin Fever- How we made our snow tunnel

  • vlad

    This is really cool. I was looking for tips on a bit more involved snow tunnels (got a gigantic snow pile at the end of my parking lot just waiting for a tunnel-city to be dug into it) and then I found this gem. Lovely post. I live up in Canada (Central Manitoba) so we always get a good amount of snow. I will remember this for my kids someday if the occasion ever arises.

  • admin

    thanks for the kind words :)

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