The 40 Year Competition

This is my friend Mike Smith who I have profiled before in my posts. He owns a marina up on Lake George and every year, we ski together at Gore Mountain and Whiteface up in the Adirondacks. For a review, Mike has jumped over 2200 times out of an airplane, he pilots his own plane and has flown open cockpit planes in the past with the leather helmet and goggles doing aerial acrobatics over Lake George to the delight of his neighbors and kids from the Hole in the Wall camp. He is also a strong skier whose lifestyle is gas pedal to the floor.

I first met Mike years ago at Laurel Mountain in Pennsylvania where he worked as the mountain manager. He then went on to work for Herman Dupre at Seven Springs as the mountain manager there and then took a job with several grooming vehicle companies eventually settling down with the marina. During the time of his sales career with the companies who make the groomers for the ski resorts, Mike visited a lot of areas in New England as well as out west. He ended up skiing at many of them with the mountain managers and would always call me and say, ” Hey McCloskey- are you working today?” To which I would respond in the affirmative and he would laugh yelling through the phone what great conditions he was having and how he was racking up more ski areas than I had at the time. You see, we have this 40 year old competition to see how many different ski areas we have officially visited and skied. We wrote them down one night over beers at the Algonquin on Lake George and ever since then, we have had this competition to see who is ahead. For documentation purposes, the areas visited have been in New England, New York State, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia,New Jersey, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, California,Nevada,New Mexico,Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Never made it to South America or Australia or New Zealand but they are on the bucket list.

There are rules though which govern this competition:
You must officially have a lift ticket and take at least one run.
The tally must be for different ski areas- no credit is given for multiple visits to any ski area.
The only exception was Tuckerman Ravine which has no lifts. We hiked and skied there many times.

I remember one year passing the Donner Ranch Ski Area in Tahoe and my friends all wanted me to stop and hike up to take one run to rack up another area on Smith. They know all about this competition. The area was closed for the day and I reminded them of the rules. Smith and I would go back and forth with phone calls when each of us visited another area that we could add to our list. I delighted in calling him and he the same. In fact, when we ski together, his comment is that he knew he was making me mad when he called me daily on a visit to a new ski area. I laughed about it but you know, he was right. He did irk me when he would call on a daily basis while I was strapped to my desk. Jagoff!

I was behind for many years but eventually caught up to him and now have surpassed him because he is out of the grooming business and he skis mostly areas that he has skied before. However, I make it my business to continue the competition and when I visit a ski area, I always look for another place to get my tally ahead. My last addition was Homewood in Lake Tahoe which has beautiful views of the lake and advanced me to 108 different ski areas visited and skied in my life. One of my observations about ski areas is that smaller, family owned areas seem to have more of an appeal than the large corporate giants. The spirit of skiing is alive in the hard work and effort it takes to keep a small area running. The ambiance of a little area in Vermont or New Hampshire with roaring wood fires in the lodges and rustic architecture, to me is more appealing than the concrete behemoths that are the norm for lodges in the corporately owned areas. High speed chairlifts are not always the panacea for the skier. Sometimes those slow lifts add to the atmosphere and allow for conversation between runs. I like that. Sure, I like to rack up vertical with high speed lifts, but there is nothing wrong with the smaller areas and their fixed grips and surface lifts. Kind of reminds you of how skiing was in the old days. Single chairs are a classic a la Mad River Glen.

So, 108 different ski areas skied and visited is a pretty good achievement but before I puff out my chest too big, one final note. I met Ogden Nutting a few years ago who is the patriarch of the Nutting Newspaper empire which currently owns the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seven Springs Ski Area, Hidden Valley Ski Area, and manages Laurel Mountain on State property. Mr. Nutting has the unofficial record of 475 different areas visited in his lifetime. This was written up in Ski Magazine. I sheepishly boasted about my 108 but enthusiastically voiced my admiration for his achievement. He said, “my boy( I was 59),you have a lot of years left.” So, lets hope I can continue to accumulate visits to different areas. I have trips planned for this year, but if I spot an opportunity to take at least one run at some place where I have never been, I will do it. I need to keep my foot on Smith’s neck like a true hard core competitor. LOL. Thanks for reading and think snow.

Fast Freddie

The first time I skied with Fred Siget was in Snowshoe, West Virginia with Larry Walsh of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I had some limited training but had experience as a ski instructor. So, as my maiden voyage with a visually impaired skier, I had the original blind skier in our area in front of me headed down Cupp Run. Right turn, left turn, right turn, stay, stay………..all of a sudden the only tree in play was before me as I yelled “crash” and Fred sat down on his way to running into the only tree within hundreds of yards. I felt so bad, but Fred dusted himself off with a smile and said, ” Pat- don’t worry about it at all. This will be one of many.” And we continued down the slope. This began a 40 year friendship with the one and only Fast Freddie Siget.

Fred lost his vision as a result of an accident with a high pressure hose when he was a volunteer fireman. As devastating as this injury was, he was undaunted. He became the first computer programmer for Koppers Corporation that was visually impaired. He continued dancing, and he learned to ski with guys like Larry Walsh, Jim Conley, Lynne(Kravetz) Hartnett, Shorty Leco and Micky Hutchko. People who took the time to work with Fred and make him into a pretty good skier by the time I came along. Fred always had ideas on how to make things easier for blind skiers and how to improve guiding techniques. He was the first guy I knew that purchased a transmitter where the guide had a microphone and he had an ear piece which made calling out commands easier and understandable with snowmaking machines roaring in the background. I used it one time standing on top of a slope and calling commands to Fred as he skied by himself down to the chairlift. With his” Blind Skier” jacket on, people were shocked viewing his run. In the bar afterwards, we had some fun with Herman Dupre the owner of Seven Springs Mountain Resort. I put the microphone on and guided Fred over in front of Herman and told him to tell Herman how much he admired his red flannel shirt. Herman was stunned and later remarked to me laughing that he was starting to “get hot thinking about all the free passes I gave to Fred and now he is telling me how much he likes my shirt!” Hilarious.

Fred was a bus driver in the old days and always missed driving. One night after skiing, I asked Fred if he wanted to drive again. He was puzzled. I took him to the upper parking lot at Seven Springs and guided him into the drivers seat of my Blazer and let him have the wheel. I gave him commands like skiing. Right turn, left turn, stay straight, …the smile on his face was priceless. Then we did some donuts and the laughter was infectious. Fred never forgot that night.

Fred was always anxious to help new guides. He put himself at risk during the training but always felt that it was worth it not only to train guides that could assist him, but to help the other visually impaired skiers who were beginning to show up at the BOLD( Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) outings at Seven Springs.

Fred was a local legend due to his skiing. People knew him and admired him as they skied past him or saw him making turns from the chairlift. They knew him in Vail, Colorado where he skied regularly with the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh Ski Clubs. But perhaps the most compelling thing about Fred was his kindness and appreciation for his fellow skiers and guides. He always remembered your birthday and when he called me, he sang, ” Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, get plastered, you bastard, Happy Birthday to you.” That made me laugh out loud every year. He would always ask about my wife Janet, and my son Jack. Jack would ski with us when he was a young guy and Fred always was interested in how he was doing in school and in his sports. Fred always thought about other people. He was popular for his skiing for sure, but as a person, you could not get a better guy who was always interested in others and never talked much about himself.

We lost Fred this fall at 94 years of age. Although he had an amazing life, we will miss him. I always think of him when I see people who have heartache in their lives or something that has tragically shaped their future. Fred never let his accident slow him down. He always said that he did more as a visually impaired individual than he ever did before losing his sight. He took a perceived bad thing and turned it into opportunity. Shouldn’t we all learn from that lesson? R.I.P Fred, I will miss you for sure. Thanks for reading folks.

Whether to weather the weather?

I have always been fascinated with weather. I can remember times watching a lightning storm dance over the ocean, or ripple a cornfield with fingers of electricity that lit up the darkened sky against a mountainous backdrop. Nature’s fury can be dangerous with tornadoes, and hurricanes. In our neck of the woods, there is a tornado alley this time of year just north of where I live and I have seen the destruction that occurs when a tornado or a micro-burst ravages trees and buildings. My wife and I are glued to the TV when a hurricane story begins on the Weather Channel.

Speaking of the Weather Channel, I always envied Jim Cantore’s job.

Jim Cantore

I always wanted to be the reporter hanging on for dear life in my Weather Channel Gore Tex outfit. I saw myself clinging to a light pole in a hurricane, 100+ MPH winds, garbage cans flying by my head, debris everywhere bringing the storm into the comfortable living rooms all across America. Pat McCloskey reporting live from Tampa, Florida, Niles, Ohio, or Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It’s crazy but I would love that job. Always wanted to be a storm chaser too. Looking for the tornado waiting to be born.

In addition to being fascinated by weather events, I love to be out in it. I have my Gore Tex outfits and am completely waterproof when I ski in torrential rainfall. The snow is soft and great even though the water is cascading down my goggles like a Yosemite waterfall. This spring has been particularly wet here in the east and if you don’t get out to enjoy your outdoor activities because of weather, you don’t get out much. I have ridden my mountain bike more days this spring in foul weather than I can remember, but as my friend Mark ” the Shark” Sauers says,” There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.”

The funny thing about being out in the foul weather is that once you make the effort, you are glad you did even though most people would think you have lost your mind. I can remember having my best results back in my weekend warrior days when the skies would open up on an mountain bike race course or during a road race. Most people either quit or didn’t bother to start. The ones who persevered sometimes didn’t have the attitude to continue like the guy changing his shirt here at the NORBAs at Seven Springs. He had enough when the skies opened up for a third time – concurrent with each lap. Mac Martin, a legend in cycling, taught me to persevere in bad conditions. He always said that if you think you are suffering, the other guy is suffering worse. Just continue on. I can remember going over the handle bars in Month of Mud races where it snowed 6 inches during the race. But grinding it out despite the crashes, paid off in the end. A little suffering for the weekend warrior taught me lessons in competition. You have to outlast the bastards.

Those days are gone now but I still make it a point to get out no matter what the weather is doing. I have skied in raging snowstorms and seen some amazing snow events. I have ridden on the road and trails in torrential rain and snow and coming back half frozen or soaked to the bone, I still have a smile on my face. Sure the sunshine is great, but look what you miss if you let weather ruin your fun. If you have the mindset that you go out no matter what, you will be happy you did instead of sitting on the couch. Get the gear- it is worth it no matter what you pay. If you suit up correctly, you can enjoy nature at it’s grumpiest. Experience the muffled silence of a snowstorm in the woods. Enjoy the smells of the green forests during a rain storm. The fragrance of the blossoms blooming in the humid air of the woods is better than any department store perfume counter. The soft tapping of rain on the leaves of the canopy is relaxing and even though things can get a bit sloppy, the experience of that soft rain is rewarding. Be like the Shark, no matter what, get out. No such thing as bad weather. Thanks for reading.

Lake Erie Fluff

This week, the west is being pounded with “Snowmageddon”. Amazing amounts of snow in the Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain region. I can’t wait to get out there in March, but for the time being we are treated here in the east to the maddening cycle of snow and cold, rain, warmer temperatures, back to cold, ice, wind, etc. etc. etc. It takes fortitude to be a skier in the East and even if there is no snow on the ground in the city and suburbs, don’t ever underestimate the power of grooming, and snowmaking at the local resorts. img_1265

Fortunately cycles change and we are blessed periodically with a phenomena that I call Lake Erie fluff. As with the storms that come from the Pacific that bang into the Cascades, we here in the banana belt see storms that come from Canada. They roll over the warmer waters of Lake Erie which produce locally heavy snows in the Western New York areas as well as colliding with the ridges of the Laurel Highlands and produce a light powdery snow that is the fluff. Lake Erie is our “snow machine” and for those who live in the northwest corner of Pa. and Western New York, it is a reality of winter even in the cyclical winters of late. I went to school in Meadville, Pa where I wore Bean boots from September through May. But to local skiers, we look forward to these storms which can salvage the cyclical damage of the winter rain, freezing rain and warmer events. IMG_0515

My wife Janet and I take advantage of these storms each winter snowshoeing and skiing locally but also traveling north to the Lodge at Glendorn http://www.glendorn.com to celebrate her birthday and to take advantage of mid winter storms in the “icebox” of Pennsylvania. Snowshoeing on the local trails there is a very pleasant experience especially when the Lake Erie fluff falls softly during our outings. The crackling fires of the lodge are welcoming and we have been very fortunate to time these visits with snow events rather than warmer, rain events. We usually combine these visits with trips to Ellicottville, NY to ski at Holimont http://www.holimont.com or Holiday Valley, each of which lie directly in the path of the storms rolling across Lake Erie. ellicottville-20130208-00088

It is not uncommon here in Pa. to see blizzard conditions in the northwest corner of the state with nothing on the ground as you drive farther to the south. Then the snowpack increases as you drive into the Laurel Highlands where you see the results of the storms colliding with those ridges and emptying larger amounts of the fluff on the local areas in the region. A strange weather pattern to be sure but it enables us to have some outdoor winter activities despite not being in the more traditional snowbound areas of New England or the west. newaerial

I often hear people say that they don’t ski in the east or they don’t ski locally, they only ski out west. That is fine if you are satisfied with only a week or two enjoying your favorite winter sport. In my mind, take advantage of the local opportunities so that when you do go on a trip, you can be ready to go. In my mind, making turns is making turns. The more you make of them, the better you are prepared and also the more you can enjoy the winter. This particular winter has been a strange one but skiing Wildcat at Laurel Mountain has been a fun experience seeing that it is the steepest slope in Pennsylvania and the area has been reopened after a 10 year hiatus. I know that lapping those runs will get me ready for my Adirondack and western trips but it also has been truly enjoyable in its own right. Janet and I will be venturing north shortly and hoping for a nice dump of that Lake Erie fluff again on our visit. Our friends, Mike and Judy Smith, drive all the way from Philly to join us.img_0541 They usually only ski the west but were pleasantly surprised with the Holimont experience in Western New York. Also the stay in Glendorn is memorable. Get there if you can.

The Return of a Classic Ski Area

I have skied a lot of areas in my time and most of them were in New England where there are the giant, corporately run areas and the smaller privately held areas. The smaller areas always held my interest because they had a sense of tradition and a feel of skiing in another time. Recently, in our neck of the woods, down here in the Banana Belt, Laurel Mountain came to life again this year. It went from being one of the lost ski areas to a vibrant, resurgence of a classic ski area reminiscent of those areas in New England. In fact, there is a tie to Mt. Cranmore in the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire. Apparently, when the Mellon family first had the idea to develop a ski area in 1939 for the members of the prestigious Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, they hired Hannes Schneider to lay out the trails. Hannes Schneider was the ski school director at Mt. Cranmore who was brought to the US from Austria by the industrialist Harry Gibson, a friend of Richard King Mellon. Schneider is widely acclaimed as the father of ski instruction in this country. newaerial

When you first pull past the stone entrance hut on the mountain road, you feel as if you are driving back in time. The parking lot is never full and as you make your way to the top of the mountain lodge which has been recently refurbished, you can relax in an Adirondack chair by a roaring fire and put your boots on. img_1263 You can then take your brown bag lunch inside or take advantage of some good comfort food in the new bar area in the base of the lodge. The picture windows look out on the whole Ligonier Valley which is not only scenic during the day, but a sight at night if you choose to night ski. The refurbished snowmaking by HKD and the new Pistenbully groomer make the Wildcat slope a delight to ski and it is known to have the steepest vertical in the state. img_1266

I remember skiing Laurel when it was run by the state and had some amazing powder days there with Frank Pipak, a friend who took the PSIA exam the same year that I did. Although, I spent the winter prior to that exam in Sugarloaf, Maine, I often credit my runs down Lower Wildcat with preparing me for the steeper terrain that was utilized in the exam. My friend Hiller Hardie always says, ” if you want to get your legs ready for the western trips, lapping Wildcat at Laurel will put you in good form.” Your legs get a work out on lower Wildcat with the steep vertical pitch. img_1265

When Seven Springs Mountain Resort decided to bring Laurel back to life this season, along with the DCNR of the State of Pennsylvania, it was time to promote it. I have told a lot of friends about my good times at Laurel and how they must try it. Like my two snowboarding friends, Tina and Mark Sauers who were totally enthralled with the area and the family feel to the place. img_1262

We have some challenges down here in the banana belt with the weather being on the edge of rain and snow. But credit Laurel with good snowmaking and grooming to make it possible for enthusiasts like me to get the most days out of rather dismal early winter conditions. I have a lot of good memories of skiing at Laurel back in the day including fun times with my son Jack and our visits to Fort Ligonier and the Pie Shop in Laughlintown at the bottom of the mountain. IMG00117-20100116-1123

Two years ago, Hiller, John McWilliams, Jeff Balicki and John O’Toole and yours truly used our snowshoes to hike into the closed area and after unloading our packs, took two runs down Lower Wildcat. Four hours plus of hiking for two runs was “having to have it” and it showed our devotion to an area which we all loved. It is so nice now to have Carl Skylling’s new Sky Trac chairlift instead of bootpacking to claim our vertical. IMG_1574photophotophoto

So if you are a local, get over to Laurel. You won’t regret it and if you are visiting, check it out. Lower Wildcat will surprise you even if you are a veteran of steep skiing from points beyond. I am so happy it is back. Hannes is probably up there smiling at all of us. 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.

In Search of Winter

IMG00053dcnr_008372imagehandler I always liked the change of seasons here in Pennsylvania. The changing leaves of the fall were alwyays a sign that winter was on its way and for some strange reason, I have always loved the snow and the winter. I still do to this day in spite of the fact that most people my age are looking to go south to get out of the cold. From the time I was a boy, when the first snows came, I was the first kid out the door with the pan or the Flexible Flyer to the Stowell’s back yard for a sled ride until my dad rang the bell for me to come home for dinner. Oftentimes it was not enough snow and too much mud and the sledding was a little rough. But as the winter progressed, those early outings and the exuberance of the early season was rewarded with deeper snows and better sledding.

As I started to ski in earnest, I would listen to the ski reports and hope that the phone would ring and Bob Rose would tell me to get ready for the trip to the mountains for the first skiing at our local area, Seven Springs. When I could drive, my folks were pretty understanding of my passion for winter and when we had a snow day off for school, my mom’s car was packed and I was on my way to the mountains. They told me to be careful which I was as I had some harrowing rides on the PA Turnpike, but I always arrived in one piece and left the same. Weekends were the same way with Friday afternoon drives after school to the mountains and the return on Sunday after bunking at the Rich family house on County Line Road near Seven Springs. I loved the winter. I loved the snow. I loved the wool hats and clothes. I still love everything about winter.

One of the more interesting and humorous outings was a while back with my friend Mike Hudson. I had taken Mike to Tuckerman Ravine and showed him big time winter camping and skiing. We had done several road trips and Mike was relegated to hearing my enthusiasm about winter for hours at a time. One time we were at a party together in early winter and I told him that it was going to snow up north of Pittsburgh. For those of you who are not from this area, we have this bigtime snow machine called Lake Erie and when the clippers come across the lake from Canada, it can dump unusual amounts of snow in northern PA. and Western New York State. I went to college not far from the lake and it was winter for most of the year in that neck of the woods. I said,” Hud- we need to go cross country skiing tomorrow and I will pick you up at the crack of dawn.” He was game and we took my International Scout northward towards the snow belt. We started to see snow around Oil City and decided that we would start at Drake’s Well which is in Oil Creek State Park. It was the site of the first oil well in Pa. and as we observed the well while suiting up, the snow was coming down hard and we were excited for an early winter outing. What we didn’t realize was that the ground was still fairly warm and as we broke the fresh snow with our skis, it was sticking to the bottoms of the skis and we were leaving green tracks all over the place. We tried waxing and scraping the snow but the frustrations were mounting and I told Hud,” We are out of here.”

We drove up to the Allegheny National Forest and settled on some trails that were close to the roadway. Same situation occurred. The ground was too warm and the snow was too wet. We were getting soaked and Hud’s enthusiasm was waning. I liked being out in the weather but Hud was getting frustrated with the weather, the conditions, and me. Had I been by myself, I would have enjoyed the day, regardless of what had happened but I was intent on making sure Hud was having a good time. I convinced him that we needed to get closer to the lake because it would be colder with more snow. That was a huge shot in the dark. We ended up at a cross country area near Erie and the conditions were a little better but the snow was still sticking to the skis. I kept plodding onward and Hud was finished. He begged me to get in the car and drive home. I reluctantly said ok and off we went down I-79 in a snowstorm.

I dropped Hud off and told him thanks for the company. He laughed and said,” McCloskey- I have spent 12 hours with you and I need to recuperate. I am not going out now and probably will not leave my house for days after that outing.” Hud is a character and I didn’t take it too personally but it just goes to show you that some people are more enthused about the winter than others. I have been known to drive to Vermont to ski upper Cascade at Killington in October and return several weeks later in bullet proof conditions with the snow guns blowing full force. I like snow storms. I like the muffled sounds that occur when the snow piles up in the trees and on the roads. It is a soft experience and if you can enjoy it on skis, snowshoes, pan, Flexible Flyer, it is all the same. Fresh air in the depths of the winter. Why sit on your couch and wait for spring? Embrace the winter. I have a post from last winter entitled the same. Check it out. I even turned my beach loving wife into a winter participant. She still likes the warm weather and the beach, but she has embraced the winter and has been drawn into the ethusiasm of her husband who may not have all his oars in the water. It’s coming. Enjoy it. Thanks for reading.