Winter is coming, and in Portland, that means it's time to play.

Just last week, the first smattering of snowfall dusted Mount Hood. That rumbling you heard shortly afterward was the sound of every mountain man and snow bunny across the state stampeding to raid the racks at Next Adventure and buy season lift passes.

For many Oregonians, this is the season that proves, above all others, why we choose to live here. Look no further than Snowvana, which will draw thousands to Veterans Memorial Coliseum for gear deals, films and meet-and-greets with athletes like Tigard-born freeskiing radical Sammy Carlson.

Of course, just as many would normally prefer to spend the next few months in hibernation.

But this year is different. Summer was unusually brutal. At a time when even the palest Portlanders typically emerge from their basements to shake off the damp malaise of spring in the great outdoors, wildfire smoke forced us to once again stay inside, with the windows shut and the A/C blasting.

That's all over now. And for those feeling the effects of prolonged cabin fever, that white-capped peak in the distance is calling your name, perhaps for the first time.

With our Winter Sports Issue, we're out to give noobs a place to start—and inspire pros with a few new ways to shred.

Did you know, for instance, it's possible to mountain bike through snow? It is, and we talked to the guy responsible for turning Bend into a national hotbed for snow biking about how to do it. If you find Oregon's ski resorts too crowded, we've put together a beginner's guide for escaping into the backcountry. And if you're getting burned out on skiing and snowboarding altogether, we've rounded up some niche snow sports to try, including skijoring and trikking.

For those just beginning to explore snow sports, snowshoeing is a great first step. We consulted an expert on what gear to buy, and recommended trails. If you're more into trudging through wind and rain, we've suggested five amazing coastal hikes, where you can watch winter storms roll in off the ocean. And maybe you just want an excuse to leave the house and get a drink. We boarded a bus for Timberline and dropped into the best bars on the way back.

Hey, we don't judge. However you want to take advantage of winter is up to you. Just make sure that you do—because in Oregon, it's not just a season. It's a way of life.