Ski Camp for Old Guys

As we pulled into Huntsville, and exited the vehicle after a great day of skiing at Snowbasin, we ran into the town drunk who cheerfully slurred and pointed,”  in there- the best cheeseburgers in town.”  I knew he was right because I had been there before but some of our posse had not and we all were treated to the simple fare of cheeseburgers, chips, and beer at the Shooting Star Saloon.  Check out their sign.IMG_0097  Aside from the ceiling filled with dollar bills and the “jackalopes” mounted on the wall( mythical jackrabbits with antlers), the St. Bernard head mounted on the wall that was accidentally shot after rescuing 11 skiers trapped in an avalanche, and the lone pool table, the oldest tavern in Utah survives on simple fare and simple customers.IMG_0096  A great place for us to relive the days exploits at Snowbasin- the site or the 2002 Winter Olympic speed events for skiing.  IMG_0088

The five of us who get together every year are avid skiers.  From left to right we have Mark Hutchinson(our historian and former race coach at Stowe), Eric Durfee( our ring leader and organizer from Lake Tahoe via Vermont), Proctor Reid( ex ski racer from Dartmouth who grew up with Hutch and Eric in Vermont), yours truly, and Bart Smith( our host this year from Park City and ex Cornell racer along with Eric) Our missing member this year was John Ingwersen, another ex Cornell racer.  Traditionally we have gone to Tahoe but seeing that the conditions were bleak for the second year in a row, Bart generously offered to host the group at his place in Park City.  This group is a passionate one.  Much like guys who go on golf trips, fishing trips, or hunting trips.  Comradery is the key component to any outing like this but our group also values time on the hill.  These guys are bell to bell, first chairs and last chairs up the mountain for the day.  It is hard to chronicle the enthusiasm. It really is something to experience.  Skiing is not just something this group does, it is a lifestyle.IMG_0178.JPG  Sitting around the apres’ places having a beer and eating a buffalo burger, you hear some great stories about ski racing in New England, and relationships with some of the big names in the ski world.  Hutch and Eric’s old friend George Tormey was the K-2 ski rep for years as well as a race coach at Stowe.  The K-2 Four ski was made available to Bode Miller originally to race at Sugarloaf in the Junior Nationals.  Bode won by a large margin in most of the events including the speed events using the conventional K-2 Four shaped ski.  It was innovative at the time and Bode wanted to use them.  The only other pair available went to Travis Durfee- Eric’s son who was a top ranked junior racer in New England and eventually made the Far West Team when the family moved to Tahoe.

Sitting around Bart’s table, one can continue to hear great ski racing and ski instruction stories from the past and the single focus of our week long adventure is skiing, skiing, and more skiing.  We wake up and decide which area we will ski for the day, eat breakfast provided by Bart and his wife Joe in absentia( she went to visit her mom),  ski all day hard usually in a fast pace line weaving through unsuspecting skiers on the mountain, having a beer and something to eat, showering, watching March madness and retiring usually at 9:00 at night.  No night life on these trips, skiing is too important and our fearless leader makes sure we are first ones in the parking lot and first on the chairs.  Pretty good for a group of  in shape guys that just turned 60.  Bart is a year older but he is the strongest one of us all.  First time I met Bart was years ago when I saw him launch himself straight into Corbett’s Couloir in Jackson Hole while we were trying to inch our way into the couloir from the side.03jack395.2  I said to Eric,” Who is this guy?”  Eric said, ” you will find out a lot about Bart.  Try to keep him in sight.”  A true strongman and powerful skier.  Age means nothing in this group.  All good skiers.  All strong skiers.  Jokingly Bart said one morning, ” this is like summer camp for old guys.”  The great thing about this annual gathering is that none of us think about anything else but skiing hard, laughing, and reliving old times.  Eat breakfast, ski, have a beer and something to eat afterwards, relax and do it all over again the next day- just like camp!!  Lots of sleep and up with the birds.  Might not be interesting to many people who include other things on ski trips, but for this group, this plan works just fine.

Friendships like this are rare and should be cherished.  When you start to lose friends like I have this past year, these get togethers are even more important.  You never know what will happen in life, but if this group has anything to say about it, the conditioning and the all out enthusiasm will keep us going for a long time.  We don’t think about age.  We think about challenge and keeping it all going.  Hopefully you are fortunate enough to have a group like this.  Work at the friendships and keep outings like this alive.  Thanks for reading.

Dusting Gunnar

It was a bright, sunny day last Sunday in Somerset, Pa. when the clan started to arrive. Heidi and Melissa, Annie and Biff, the Bouchers, Lars and Inger, the Baum girls, Linda Belle, Dixon, Porter,Patty, and a host of others who call the English family their friend. You could feel the warmth of long lasting friendships in the building and in many ways, the group was holding each other tight as mountain life enthusiasts do.11060297_10205067359516366_5866834607737862685_n Mountain people are a tight knit group all held together through a love of sliding down a mountain on skis, riding knobby tires, hiking, fishing, and otherwise enjoying the mountains as a place of rest, fun, and safe haven with friends.IMG_0582

We lost one of our own last Thursday when Brad English was taken from us so unexpectedly. That is why the gathering at the funeral home was in many ways a meeting of the clans from up in the Laurel Highlands. You had the locals, the weekenders, the commuters, all the folks who forged friendships up at Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Pennsylvania. The North Hills group, the Fox Chapel group, the Mt. Lebanon group, and of course the Seven Springs and Rockwood group. All close knit friends for many years. It was a homecoming of sorts seeing that some of the group had moved away, but as everyone paid their respects to Greg and Mary Ellen English and their family and Brad’s lovely daughter Jenny, you could feel the warmth in the room and the need to hold on to our life in the mountains.1380110_10205067173871725_2086237601213283491_n Bill Boucher put it best when he said, ” This one really hurts.” And it did. Brad English was one of the good guys. A friendly welcoming man who grew up in the mountains, built his own house, raised his daughter, and was a friend to everyone on the mountain. He was the first guy standing in line at the Gunnar Chairlift every Saturday when I made my way from the North Face lot to the base of the Gunnar chair. Both of us enjoyed the first chair up the hill, and the groomed perfection that lies ahead for the early birds on the ski slopes. Brad had a great sense of humor when he harassed the ski patrol and lift operators to open the lift up early. He wanted to ski and in his own funny, needling way, the lift guys and the patrol scrambled to make his wishes come true. Brad was a skier, a hunter, a fisherman, all things mountain. Interestingly, when I was a young guy skiing at Seven Springs, the English brothers were in my estimation, the best skiers on the hill. Natural talent. Even when Brad did a stint living in Vail, I remarked out there that Brad was still one of the best skiers in Vail. He was an enthusiast, skilled skier, and sportsman. But most importantly, he was a friend. He was welcoming into his home, and was one of us and now he is gone. FullSizeRender

Tuesday there was an on slope service, which is what he would have wanted. Friends skiing, watching the celebration of life from the top of the chair, toasting with frosty beverages and literally and figuratively setting Brad’s spirit free to the Laurel Highlands which he loved so well. 10390199_10205067161071405_9122657908372867184_n The Gunnar Chair and slope will always be home to Brad. I will always think of him while riding that chair on Saturday mornings.

Life is so fragile and the message that kept ringing in my head was what my mother always told me. ” To have a friend is to be a friend.” That is why she had so many friends and it holds true with Brad English. Lots of friends on that mountain. Life flies by so fast and it is easy to get caught up in the day to day. Easy to never make plans to get together with friends, easy to let convenience get in the way, easy to let work schedules dictate your life. But in the final analysis, your family and friends are everything. Cherish them. Cherish the old times and keep the friendships alive with a phone call, a lunch, a ski date, or whatever. I am guilty as much as the next guy. But like Bill said, this one hurt. It makes you think when you lose a friend. Embrace opportunity. RIP Brad. Thanks for reading.

Photos and title courtesy of Melissa Updegraff Thompson and Annie Rose Swager.

Johnny O’s Excellent Adventure

Well, most of my ski group has been pounding the high speed chairlifts both at our local area and out west in search of the biggest vertical, and most runs that we can ski in a day. In our zeal to be the first on the lift, we look forward to reaping the most vertical before the crowd gets too cumbersome. So, it was a nice change when our nordic and mountain bike guru, John O’T contacted us and suggested we take a day locally and either use backcountry skis with skins or snowshoe to one of our favorite ski areas that has been closed for some time.photo As we assembled at an undisclosed location we donned our gear. The backcountry equipped guys began xc skiing the trail to the closed location and Hiller,Jeff B, and I used our snowshoes and carried our skis and pack with ski boots tucked inside.photo The weather was blustery and it was snowing heavily as we forded the miles and finally arrived at the closed lodge. Hiding ourselves from the wind, Hiller,Jeff B and I changed into our ski boots, put the hiking boots in the pack and joined John and the rest of the group as we en masse headed down the steepest and most challenging slope in Pennsylvania.IMG_1574 It had been a long time since I have skied there and although there have been several other scofflaws that have done the same thing, the turns made on that slope in the last 10 years have been few and far between. photo

I wondered what the slope conditions would be like. I knew that the snow would be good but what had grown on that slope in the last 10 years? As we made our way through the sparse puckerbrush on the upper part of the slope, we were greeted by only a few small trees that had grown up over the years. The powder snow was deep, the turns were fun, and no one seemed to heed the warnings of the state workers that we might be fined for making this excursion into a closed ski area. There were no signs, it is a state forest, and we pay taxes so …………we ski!!!

The first run was pristine. At the bottom, I dropped my pack and we all boot packed up the slope all the way to the lodge at the very top of the run. Once more we made turns in the uncut snow and as we made it to the bottom, we sat for a moment relishing what we had done in the softly falling snow. The skins went back on, snowshoes were donned, and the group began the slow slog up the side trail that would eventually lead to the outbound trail to the cars.photo We noticed the varying efficiency of the different equipment- backcountry skis with skins versus snowshoes. The snowshoes seemed to have an advantage on the steeper parts but once we made it to the flats up top, the xc motion of the skis was faster than walking in snowshoes. On our way out, we saw a guy with a snowboard on his back. I said to him,” What are You doing?” He looked at me and laughed and said, ” What were You doing? We both had a chuckle as we saw another guy with backcountry gear. He looked over and said, “You know, I just left Jackson Hole to come back to Pa for powder. Should have just stayed here.” We agreed but time in Jackson is well spent no matter what the conditions.

We all pulled out some micro brews back at the parking lot and I brought out a cheese platter with crackers for the group. As we discussed the days fun at our ad hoc picnic, seeking shelter from the storm under my tailgate, we all were appreciative of Johnny O’s excellent suggestion that led to the excellent adventure. We all are used to western adventure, but were sure happy that we got to have a true backcountry adventure right here in our home state of Pennsylvania. Sometimes you have to slow it down in order to really appreciate the beauty of the mountains.photo It isn’t always about the most vertical or how fast we can ski. We really appreciated the muffled silence of the woods in the falling snow.We took the time to look around and enjoy.photo As we parted and I made my way down the mountain, I had a big smile on my face knowing that we all had pulled off something special with the hopes that someday, this amazing local treat of an area would once again be open to the public. Our merry band of outlaws, Hiller, John O, McWilly, Jeff B and me will be back if in fact the area remains closed, and perhaps another day of skiing through great snow and puckerbrush will lie waiting for us as we trudge out way through the Laurel Highlands snowfields. Another example of how to enjoy the winter. It is hard, it is long, but if you take the time to be creative and enjoy, the winters are wonderful. My favorite time of the year. Enjoy. Thanks for reading.

The Standard Race

For all of us growing up at Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Pa., Lars Skylling, the Director of Skiing, was like a god to us. Handsome, with the Swedish accent, and great skier to boot, with Stein Eriksen form. We all looked up to Lars and wanted to emulate him on the slopes. Lars is shown here in this picture below, receiving his award for induction into the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Hall of Fame. He has the Tyrolean jacket on with the green tie- third from left in the back. Great guy, we all love Lars. He is retired now but I had the opportunity to ski with him a couple of years ago in Vail and for a guy in his elder years, he still made elegant turns. IMG_4952
So, when we were kids, Lars was the ski school director and he started an open race every Sunday after the day session ended that was called the Standard Race. My buddy Porter said it was called the Head Standard Race but in any event, it was an open, four gate flyer from the top of the front side of the mountain down to the finish line in front of the old warming hut. If you came within a certain percentage of the time that Lars laid down, you received either a gold, silver, or bronze “7” pin that we all clamored for with every run that we made. As we all got older and into our early teens, we were able to finally get that gold “7” because we were catching up to the master. However, Lars threw a surprise for all of us when he added the upper trail on the Stowe slope and jumped the corner when he made a right hand turn down on the Cortina Trail. Whoa!!!!! We all were taken by surprise and the conversation on the hill that day and on the chairlift to the start was whether we had the guts to jump the corner like Lars did. If we didn’t, there was no way we would get the gold so we all had to see if we had the bravado to do it and if we survived, we got the coveted pin. photo
One year, I decided that if I leaned forward at the finish line and tried to break the beam with my hand, I might be a little faster. Unfortunately, I blew out of my bindings when I lurched forward and took out the whole timing device and the electric eye. John Fraser and his dad came running out of the hut to see if I was ok, but the real challenge was to get the timing device up and running again. As we all crossed the finish line, Bob Rose would herd us into the station wagon that he had strategically placed outside the warming hut and the North Hills clan would eventually make it back to Pittsburgh with a dinner for the crowd at my folk’s house. My parents didn’t ski but they sure could cook and entertain. That was their contribution. All the kids talked about the race and how we ended up. If you got the gold pin, you were a stud, and everyone knew that the next step was the day that you would finally be able to beat Lars straight up. That day eventually came for most of us as we got older and faster. But no matter the outcome, we all loved Lars and if we were able to finally best his pacesetter time, it was a milestone in our skiing career that we would never forget. photo

The years have gone by but a lot of the guys who I still ski with at Seven Springs still have their pins. Porter, Jamie Edson, and me. Porter and Jamie proudly wear theirs in remembrance of an era gone by. NASTAR had taken over the citizen race arena with a much more sophisticated national ranking system and national championship. But the old Standard Race was a free form flyer that we all loved, and no matter what improvement we made with equipment upgrades, the prestige of that pin was something that is still remembered to this day. The Standard Race is a memory for all of us growing up at the last resort. So, Greg, Brad, Melissa,Dave Helmick, Heidi, all the Dupre girls, Johnny Fraser, Johnny McCarthy, Andy, Richard Nicolette, the Rose clan,the Edsons, the Rich clan, the Siegle clan, ………….dig out those “7”s and wear them with pride. You cut the corner, you survived the races, and you got your pins. Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter.

Ski the South- you may be surprised!

Back when I was a senior in college, I took the next step in ski instruction by taking a registration clinic in order to be affiliated with the Professional Ski instructors of America(PSIA). The closest one to me at the time was at Canaan Valley Ski Area in West Virginia. As I made my way south over the Mason Dixon line, I was thinking to myself that this was a strange place to go skiing. My experience up to that time, besides skiing in Pa, was either north to New England or west to Colorado. What was this going to be like? The back roads through the Monongahela National Forest were twisty and dark and I had visions of moonshiners, junk yard dogs, and other Appalachian thoughts where I would be lost in some “holler” and never to be heard of again. I was surprised at the beauty of West Virginia and when I got to the Canaan Valley, I was overwhelmed with the charm and the friendliness of the area and the people. “How y’all doin?” was not something I had ever heard from a liftie before and the clinic went well. The clinic leader was from Vermont and he stated to me that he loved coming south to ski because the resorts make a special effort to make sure that the snow conditions are as good as they can be given the challenging conditions of weather in that area. 7bf16d8ee7504bc98e7da791b93d6272

Fast forward and our Seven Springs crew made our way to Snowshoe Resort for the annual Cupp Run Ski Race. Snowshoe is a huge ski area with an elevation of over 5,000 feet. It has the topography of a small New England area and the Intrawest property is very well run with a lots of snowmaking capacity and a village that is built like Whistler at the top of the mountain. Our crew at the time was there for this annual race and although my ski instructor form in the race course was pretty, it never was fast. But I always had a good time traveling with some of our guys who were actually pretty accomplished racers. John Steitz, who had a pedigree of prep school and college racing, as well as the experience of coaching at Whiteface, went with us one year and won the race. His victory was pretty strong seeing that his main competition at the time was Hans Truckenbrod who was a Vermont based pro racer who always came south to cherry pick this classic race. Boy was he surprised when the “ragpicker” Johhny beat him and took first prize. John was not a slave to fashion as he raced in a wool hat with a hole in it from his dog eating it for breakfast. He also wore green wool pants and a flannel shirt. When he stood on the podium to collect his prize next to Truckenbrod, with his race attire and the third placed guy also looking splendid with his ski parka with sponsor patches, the photographer for Snowshoe looked at me and said, ” Well there goes the publicity picture.” We all laughed as our buddy the “ragpicker” cleaned house and took away the grand prize. Snowshoe puts on a great race and is a wonderful place to ski with surprisingly a lot of natural snow because of its elevation and the frequent southern storms that come racing through West Virginia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euxtPs3TUJ4

Another great memory for me skiing in the south were my trips to see Frank and Jan Habay in Charlottesville, Virginia. They took us to Wintergreen which is a beautiful ski area in the ridges above Charlottesville. After eating my customary southern breakfast with grits, eggs, sausage and gravy, I was excited to try yet another southern ski area. I had a friend, Mark Singleton, who was the ski school director down there who welcomed us and informed us that the World Cup and Olympic champions, Steve and Phil Mahre, were skiing there that day as a publicity event for K2 skis. We caught up with the Mahres as they were skiing on the two expert slopes and we got a first hand look at not only how powerful they were as skiers, but a good look at their humor which is legendary. You see, at Wintergreen, you can’t ski the expert terrain unless you ski down to two ski patrol members and show them your turns. They punch your ticket which indicates that you are skilled enough to ski there. The ski patrol makes an effort to keep people off those slopes that are not skilled enough to ski there. The Mahre brothers approached them at high speed and stopped right in front of them burying them in snow. As they frantically dusted themselves off preparing to take the tickets from the guys, they showed their anger and started screaming at the top of their lungs at the World Cup champions. As they discovered who they were talking to, their demeanor suddenly became sheepish as we all got a good laugh at the prank that was played on the local constabulary by a couple of guys who have raced all over the world. night-skiing

Skiing in the south has a special charm. The Appalachian mountains are beautiful in their own right and the gentle elevation, accompanied by the legendary southern hospitality is a welcome addition to anyone’s ski portfolio. If you get the chance, ski the south. West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina may surprise you and the effort they make to stay open despite weather challenges shows their passion for the sport of skiing. You never know, you may see some Olympic champions in the lodge eating some red eye gravy and ham with some corn bread. Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter.

The Rose of Tahoe

For many years, I drove up the Mt. Rose Highway out of Reno and passed the Mt. Rose Ski Area on my way to the Durfees in Incline Village, Nevada. I often wondered what the skiing was like at Mt. Rose seeing that it is the first area that I passed on that trip from the airport. A lot of people pass on their way to North Lake Tahoe resorts but the locals know better than the tourons. It seems like Mt. Rose has been a favorite of the Reno locals for years and when I finally skied it a couple of years ago for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised and it has been a regular stop on my ski trips to the Tahoe region in Nevada. I will be touching down in a few weeks again to ski Tahoe and Mammoth with my buddies and the convenient location of Mt. Rose allows me to have quick access to the slopes there. In fact, the drill goes as follows:50year_anniversay

1.) Pick up skis and baggage at carousel- check
2.) Change clothes shamelessly right there at the carousel into my ski garb with onlookers curiously giggling. Who cares- I don’t know them. -check
3.) Put on ski boots and drag gear to curb- check
4.) Eric picks me up and knows the blue Lange boots waiting for him on the bench outside the airport. Dead giveaway from 100 yards out. -check
5.) Eric misses 2 runs as he picks up Hutch and me and we are back on the hill in 45 minutes. IMG00143-20100212-1420

Not only is the proximity to the Reno Airport good, but Mt. Rose is a very nice place to ski. Personally, I like areas where you can drive into the parking lot, put on your boots, walk a couple of hundred feet and get on the lift. You can do that at Rose. A nice family feel to it. Great groomers to warm up with and then you can make your way to a series of lift serviced chutes aptly named……The Chutes. The gates to this area describe a series of steep drops with some intimidating names. This skiing is not for the faint of heart and if you can’t make quick turns on some pretty steep vertical, you really should not pass through the gates. Every year I go there, it is the first wake up call for me that I am once again out west on non- groomed steep terrain where you better be paying attention. If we are fortunate enough to have powder conditions, The Chutes are wonderful. They are steep enough that you have to check the snow report and make sure that the avalanche conditions are in check. But the ski patrol won’t let you through the gates anyways if there is any possibility of a slide. But it is good to be aware nonetheless. Not often do you get steep terrain like this inside the boundaries of a ski area. IMG00331-20110323-1707
One day, a few years back, we saw a group of guys with baggy clothes and full face helmets blasting down the Chutes howling and laughing and having a great time. We saw them at lunch in the lodge and when they took off their helmets, there were gray beards and gray hairs everywhere. I introduced myself and remarked that we thought they were a bunch of kids with their garb and how well they skied. They appreciated the comments and said that they have been skiing together since they were 16 years old. These guys were all in their 60s. They motocross together all summer. Great bunch of guys who have called Rose their winter home for close to 50 years. It is guys like these and the other locals and families that make up the wonderful atmosphere that this ski area exudes. The owners are devoted to skiing only, as evidenced by a t-shirt that I bought that states ” Mt. Rose” simply on the front of the shirt and “Summer Sucks” on the back. These folks live for the winter and they run a nice area that is the highest elevation in the Lake Tahoe region. Consequently, they get snow when some of the other areas get rain. On the down side since it is so high and exposed, they do get high winds. On those days you can retreat to Diamond Peak just over the summit or go to Northstar and hide in the trees and escape the wind. MR Chutes

One last bit of trivia is that the Mt. Rose Ski Area is actually not Mt. Rose. That peak is actually across the Mt. Rose Highway. My family along with the Durfees hiked that a few years ago and the summit of Mt. Rose actually yields a nice view of Lake Tahoe, Reno, and the trails of the Mt. Rose Ski Area. If you go to Tahoe, don’t pass up on an opportunity to ski Rose. It has become one of my favorite areas not only in Tahoe, but overall. I am so happy we finally made it a permanent stop on my trips with the guys. Thanks for reading and keep enjoying winter- I do. IMG00243-20100809-1600

Musical Trails

” Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette. Puff, puff, puff them and if you puff yourself to death. Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you just have to make him wait, but you just got to have another…..cigarette”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyYLrVNKE68

Nothing like a little Texas swing from Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen to start a trail run. 924186 Now, I have always been a bit of a late bloomer as they say. I got married at a later age,had a child at a later age, still have not matured in many ways, and still put stamps on envelopes and mail my bills. But I am embracing technology and now have a new partner on my winter trail runs- Pandora. You might say, ” Pat- what is so novel about running with ear buds? Everybody does it.” Well I tried the I-Pod a number of years ago and didn’t like it because when I am riding my mountain bike, I like the feedback of sound from the trails. Same with skiing. If I hit an ice patch, I want to be able to hear it so my reaction is appropriate and not be distracted by Mick yelling in my ear that he needs some satisfaction. But running the trails- that is a horse of a different color. Thanks to Janet, JR, Chris, and Daryl, I have finally found Pandora on the trail and have loaded up my shuffle opportunities with some of my favorite music. download (3)

With the Byrds, Commander Cody, The Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco and a host of other music from my college years, I can run over those logs and rocks and make time to the cadence of my favorite songs. I can get lost on those trails with daydream visions of my old dorm room with Bob Rose and his aviator sunglasses getting ready to put his KLH speakers out the window for spring term- blasting the Commander for everyone outside. I can see the cracked linoleum floors and see the packed refrigerator with Genesee Cream Ale provided by Jeff Ruggles. I can even see that curmudgeon of a lawyer Pat Clair, with his long black hair back in the day, tapping his toes to the rhythm of the Byrds. I can see the layout of that room with the early post office decor- because it genuinely was ripped off from the campus post office by a number of rowdies in our dorm. I laugh as I hear these old tunes and it helps me through the dark nights of the winter on the dark and desolate trails. I have run our trail system for 35 years. I have not become involved in the Fat Bike craze or the studded mountain bike tire craze yet because when it starts to get cold, sloppy, and icy, I park the mountain bike and pull out my trail running shoes. photo Something different and no hassle with extra clothes and a mud/ice caked bike. But again, I am a late bloomer and I may change. In my defense, my behaviors may be archaic, but I have always tried the latest sports equipment looking for an advantage. I did embrace the oversize tennis racquets, shaped skis, and 29er mountain bikes. But with regards to winter trail activities,I am still in the trail running,hiking,and snowshoe mode. But my new friend Pandora has made it all the more enjoyable. For 35 years I had to entertain myself with my own inane thoughts on those dark, lonely, winter trail runs. Now I have my old college musical friends running and hiking with me.

When the first real snow arrives, I pull out the snowshoes and am in a more contemplative mood. I like the beauty of the snow covered trees in the woods. My eclectic taste in music changes on these nights as I listen to Enya, Celtic Women, Sara McLaughlin,and Libera. The haunting Celtic melodies or the choir music of Libera almost elevate me as I hike the snow covered trails with my snowshoes. It is as if I am almost in another world of some kind with that peaceful, contemplative music in my ears coupled with the visual pastoral settings of a snow covered landscape.

It is interesting how music affects your mood and manages performance in activities like trail running. I like the shuffling of my selections but when that hard uphill comes into play right before the end at the parking lot, I like the ability to kick into my last effort with some inspirational music from ………..lets say……..The New Riders…….” Panama Red.” ” Just don’t know when Red’s in town, he keeps well hidden under ground…….” Ahhh, made it up the hill.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKgB-3aANe0 Amazing how that music got me going. Hey- I am a late bloomer. You guys have had the ear buds for years. I am just now discovering and enjoying it. Keep bringing me into the 21st century my friends. Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter.