Well, the rodent here in Punxatawney,Pa. says 6 more weeks of winter. By the looks of things, it will be at least that long. The snow blower has been going full bore and the skiing in the east has been epic. My friend Julie from Chicago asked me not to put “Think Snow” at the end of my posts even though that is a standard skiing greeting. She claims she has plenty and for someone like me, there never is enough of plenty. Maybe three years ago in Tahoe when it snowed 14 feet the week I was there. That was probably enough for that week. But for most of us here in the East, we have survived two Polar Vorteces(haha- I think I spelled that right?), a winter where there has been snow on the ground since Thanksgiving, colder than normal temps, but in reality- a good old fashioned winter like I remembered as a kid. A lot of folks around here are growning weary of the cold and the snow but sorry to say to them………..I like it. Not just because I am a skier, but I enjoy getting out in the snow and enjoying the cold,fresh air. I sleep like a rock when I come in from the cold. Like my dad always said,” It’s like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer- it feels so good when you stop.” But I don’t really see it that way. I say- embrace the winter.
You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the winter. Take this morning for instance. I took the day off because I had some personal things to attend to, but in the early morning, I made my way to our North Park ( I always brag about our 42 miles of trails out there), and strapped on the snowshoes. If you can walk, you can showshoe and it is most enjoyable. You are not killing yourself on a run yet when you are finished, you have worked up a pretty good lather using the snowshoes and your ski poles for balance. The sun was shining this morning and the vision before me was like millions of bright, sparkling diamonds glittering from the snow covered surface of the trails. Every step revealed a new stash of diamonds while the others faded as I walked. The air was cold and crisp, the trees had a blanket of snow on the limbs and branches. It was a visual smorgasbord of nature at its winter best. We had a little bit of freezing rain and then it snowed again so the effort this morning was like walking on a bowl of Kelloggs Corn Flakes. Crunch, crunch, crunch, but it was neat and we had plenty of snow. Usually I am hammering on those dry trails in the summer on my mountain bike pedaling along and looking 3 feet in front of me only to make sure I don’t go flying over the bars. I don’t see anything except three feet in front of me or looking at some guys baggies up in front. But when you snowshoe, the forest comes alive. You can see birds looking for food, squirrels and chipmunks acting all OCD trying to work because the sun is out, even though they have stashed their food for the winter. You stumble on some dozing deer as they lay in wait for the sunset. I usually stop to hear…………..nothing. The silence is great and when you exercise in that kind of environment, you are rewarded like nothing else you have ever experienced.
Our park is an oasis in the middle of suburbia and you don’t have to drive far out of the park to get back to the daily hussle and bustle of the world. But for the hours that you can spend on those trails, the world seems so far away and I tell people that it is as good for your body as it is for your mind. Sometimes you just need to enjoy nature and let the troubles of every day living fade for just a little bit while you indulge yourself in someting beneficial. A lot of the time, you don’t need to concentrate on making turns down a slope, or making strides on a pair of cross country skis with no fixed heel. You don’t have to watch your balance and be sure to remain upright on a pair of skates. Snowshoeing is great. You can purchase a set from LL Bean http://www.llbean.com or go on line and get a knock off for somewhat less including poles. But good old fashioned ski poles, cross country skiing poles, or hiking poles work just fine. The cool thing is that after a big snow, you can strap them on right outside your front door and go anywhere. Golf Courses, fields, trails, are all fair game for snowshoeing. Why not try it? We have a lot of winter left according to old Phil and you might just get hooked on a very simple form of winter exercise. My wife Janet and I do it together. The whole family can participate for very little investment. Hiking boots, winter clothing, ski poles, and snowshoes. Try it – you’ll like it. Embrace the winter will ya? You too Julie!!! Thanks for reading.