Snow day activity: Build a snow cave!

Every time we get more than two feet of snow, my household has a ritual: We build a snow cave in our back yard. After all, if you're already snowed in, you might as well make use of that pile of white to entertain yourself -- and admit it, you totally want to play in the snow. Snow caves are easy to build, but you'll need at least one more person and enough snow to do it. (Three feet or more -- which is what the Foothills got over the last two days -- is ideal, but you can work with two.) The process itself is deceptively simple: Create the biggest, most compact pile of snow you possibly can in the middle of your work area. (The pile above is six feet tall._ And make sure you pack it down as much as you can, so your cave will be sturdy. Then dig out an entryway, tunneling toward the middle of your pile. Finally, hollow out an area where you can sit. Or lounge. Whatever. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Some tips and pointers:

The above is what happens when your walls are too thin. Make sure your pile of snow is as giant as it can possibly be, and build the cave during the day -- you'll be able to see the sun through the walls when you're getting close. For that reason, snow caves are most easily built the day after a big storm.

It's usually most efficient for one person to tunnel at a time, while the other person acts as a backhoe, removing the snow as you dig.

Dogs can be coaxed into snow caves if you make the entryway big enough.

BE SAFE WITH YOUR SNOW CAVES. We can't stress this enough. You need at least one other person on hand at all times while you're digging. If you pack the snow down enough, then the cave should not collapse on you while you dig -- but be alert to the possibility and never leave a digger alone. Got it?

Have fun!

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