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Learn to love the ride

September 20, 2013 - John Stack
We’ve recently had some real warm days. We’ve also had some cold days (a friend sent a Facebook photo saying it was 27 degrees a couple days ago). Days like today (78 degrees and sunny) are nice. People tell me “its about time summer came”. But more so, this weekend when it gets quite cooler, they will sing a different tune. “Summer was too short” or “winter will be here too soon” and “it’s too cold”. I will nod my head and smile, feeling sorry for their misguided ways….

I moved here almost 14 years ago. I didn’t move here for the summertimes, and the lying on the beaches. I moved here because it is a winter wonderland. I do love the summer, but I don’t lament its passing. I have a sister in Central New York (where we all grew up). The rest have all moved South – Nashville, Mobile Alabama and Tampa Florida. They think I’m crazy to move to the coldest town in the lower 48. I think otherwise.

I moved here to ski – downhill and cross country. To sled. To snowshoe. For the snow. For the cold. My sister lives outside Syracuse. She gets a lot more snow than we ever get. But, they could have a 3 foot storm, and week later - the snow is gone. My first year here – there was 2 inches of snow for a Columbus Day race at Mt Van Ho. The next time I saw green grass was when I returned from a vacation in Washington DC in late April. I loved it. Living outside Newburgh for 8 years before I moved here, I’d drive in on 84 and the grass was brown and ugly. 5 months of the year. That doesn’t happen here. It looks beautiful year round. The rare mild winter is still nicer to look at than most days in the Hudson Valley in winter.

Fall is incomparable. Do you know we have some of the greatest fall foliage, if not the best, in the world? Most people in the Midwest, South and Western US do not have the deciduous tree variety that we do. How many maple trees do you see in Florida? Lilac trees? I get to see this stuff in my own yard each spring and fall. Also, for me and my friends, fall is perfect running/hiking weather. The cooler temperatures mean longer runs without over heating, and less water needed to rehydrate. Hike a 6er in July? Bugs, sweat, heat, tons of people on the trails. Cool September/October? No bugs. Light jackets. Fewer people on trails.

But running in Fall/winter is tough..?? Not so much. You just need the right equipment. Headlamp for darkness? Check. Reflective vest? Check. Yak Trax/snowshoes? Check. In training for the 6er ‘race’ we trained mostly on snow. Running up and down these mountains very often was significantly easier in the winter. No stumps, rocks, roots to trip over. Often, the snowcover makes a trip very smooth, and I can run free with little fear of tripping or falling, which IS a real hazard in the summer.

Ya know what? I even get lost less in winter. Most of the time you are running on trails that are all ready broken. I ran over at John Brown Farm this week, and didn’t realize how many side trails there are up there that have been ‘herd pathed”. You don’t see those in winter. Last week, we missed a turnoff out on the pole line in Onchiota. In winter, the turnoff would have been significantly easier to spot (although we don’t generally run there in the winter as it is a major snowmobile trail).

I love this town. I love that we are the coldest town around. I hate the fuel bills and I hate the early darkness. But I love the cold. I love the length of our winter. And, as the theme song to “The United States of Tara”implores if you don’t like the cold “Learn to love the ride”.


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