Let it snow
With the Perkinstown Tramp snowshoe race just a few weeks away, it is time to get serious about winter outdoor activities.
For many people the snow and slush of winter is a good excuse to stay inside, throw another blanket on and catch up on those 90s sitcoms you were too busy to watch when they were on the air.
While binge-watching old television shows and noting how smartphones would have eliminated 87% of their plots device, has its appeal. There is something about the crisp clear air of a cold January day that makes you want to get outside and do something.
One of my favorite things to do each winter is go snowshoeing. While I do not have the physique of an athlete, it is fun to take part in community races.
The plus of snowshoeing is that everyone looks silly doing it. This is important to those of us who lack coordination and grace.
I have a non motorized trail across from my house and will often see skiers out there gracefully gliding across the snow during their lunch breaks or after work. They make it look effortless and easy to eat up miles on a set of skis with poles in hand.
I lack the balance and coordination, not to mention the physical conditioning needed to cross country ski. The few times I have tried it, I have ended up face first in a snowbank and nearly impaled myself on the poles.
A high school friend and her family were downhill skiing fanatics. Several years ago she moved to Lake Placid, New York to be closer to the slopes. She talks excitedly to me about racing down the slopes and about how much fun it is to do it when the mountains are icy and especially fast. I find myself nodding and smiling in a nonthreatening manner and backing away slowly even when I am having an online chat over text messages with her.
I get enough adrenaline in my day job to not need the fix of taking a controlled fall to my near-certain death at the bottom of a hill.
On the other extreme are ice fishermen. These diehard anglers haul a pile of gear out to their favorite fishing spot, drill a hole and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait.
I am not a patient man. I recognize this as being one of my numerous flaws. It is one of the reasons I brew beer over making wine and why I get frustrated at basketball players slowing the momentum of play by dribbling the ball at half-court. It is not that I don’t recognize the value of patience, it is just that I don’t have time to wait for it. It is also the reason I don’t go ice fishing very often. Come to think of it, it is probably why I am not a very successful fisherman in general.
As far as outdoor winter sports, snowshoeing is right up my alley. I know that within minutes of me strapping on my snowshoes I will be as good as I will ever be in walking on them. Considering that the shoes I use have an inordinate number of crampons on them for stability and grip, I actually feel more confident trudging along in them like some portly polar bear then when I am wearing my hiking boots.
The biggest challenge is to get up off the couch, turn off the television, put away your smartphone and get out the door.
It is less of a matter of what you do, then in getting up and doing something.
Other than being healthier and happier, the ultimate payoff of spending a winter afternoon on the trails is being able to come back inside and sit with a blanket and a bracing warm beverage or two and know that you can now get back to binge-watching a show that has been off the air for longer than your children have been alive.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.