While you wait for spring, why not get outside and enjoy the trails, such as these in North River, N.Y.
The transition from winter to mud season is a tough one for the average Active Outdoors person here in the Northeast. As far as I'm concerned (and I know lots of you will agree with me), that so-called "spring" we hear so much about is a marketing ploy created by city dwellers who never set foot on a hiking trail. They happen to notice one sunny day in late March or April and blow it all out of proportion.
But for those of us whose hearts, if not our corporeal beings, are in the snowy hills, winter is significant, and letting go of it is tough. In fact, I personally don't let go of winter until I'm absolutely forced to. I'd recommend you do the same.
For the past several years, my sweetheart Marilyn and I have taken a late-winter road trip that includes the Adirondacks of New York, a place where winter holds on wonderfully. In fact, I'm writing this at the Mirror Lake Inn (mirrorlakeinn.com) in Lake Placid, where owners Ed and Lisa Weibrecht are making an understandably big deal of the fact that their son Andrew just won a bronze medal in the Olympic men's super-G.
It snowed here last night, so my decision for the day is whether to Telemark at Whiteface, cross-country on any of the several groomed trail systems nearby, or go snowshoeing on one of the trails that crisscross the mountains around here. (Poor Marilyn is nursing a badly sprained knee, so she's headed for the spa.)
You can bet whichever of those options I choose, I'll enjoy it.
There was no difficult decision to make yesterday. We were staying at Garnet Hill Lodge (518-251-2150; garnet-hill.com) in North River, N.Y., which is friendly rustic inn on a hilltop surrounded by snow and an expansive networks of cross-country ski trails. It had snowed all night, six inches or so of wet cement, and it was still spitting snow and sleet. A change to rain was in the forecast, so Tom Merkt, who heads their ski program, and Rich Connell, who grooms their trail system, and I headed out to get in some miles before the deluge. It was only after we started that I asked myself why I was trying to keep up with two super-fit twenty-somethings ... you'd think I'd know better at my advanced age.
It wasn't too bad for most of the trek. Since the lodge is on the top of the hill, you start by skiing down. We took a long and winding trail through quiet woodlands that eventually schussed us (watch that last little pitch, it's a doozy!) onto Thirteenth Lake where the snow had changed to a-l-m-o-s-t rain and the wind was slamming whatever it was into our faces. A mile or so of that was exhilarating.
Then, of course, came the climb UP what we had slid DOWN, and by the time we got back to the lodge we were soaked with sweat on the inside and with "mixed precipitation" on the outside. The fire and a hot beverage were very welcome.
Old Man Winter lets go hard sometimes, and that's a wonderful thing. Instead of dreaming of spring, get out and enjoy the last bit of winter while you can, even if you have to travel to find it.
Life isn't a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!
Just because you don't see a lot of snow around, doesn't necessarily mean winter's over. Don't get caught by the None In My Back Yard syndrome.
After we left New York, we headed toward Stowe and Jeffersonville, Vt., two other places where winter still holds sway. I'm writing this in a very comfortable room at Trapp Family Lodge (802-253-8511; trappfamily.com) in Stowe, where we found green grass in the front yard and great cross-country skiing in the hills behind where there's still enough snow to call it winter.
Trapp's, of course, was the very first cross-country ski resort in the country, and Sam Von Trapp, the new vice president, has put in an ambitious snowmaking system that lets them get started early in the season and keep going after it looks like spring is winning.Trapp's is just a wonderful place to visit in March.
If you wait too long and all the snow melts, Trapp's has birding programs and some excellent fishing. April, when all of the avian "snowbirds" are returning to the neighborhood, is a wonderful time for a quiet-season getaway (and you can still ski up at Stowe Mountain until at least mid-April). Then there's mountain biking when the trails dry out in May and June. All fun stuff, but my advice is to enjoy winter while you can.