Above: winter in the Adirondack mountains circa 1975.
Winter Sports Activities
Winter was so much more enjoyable when I was a kid. You didn't have to worry about getting up 2 hours before work in order to thaw out your car and clean all the snow and ice off of it. I was born in Rochester, New York; which is right on Lake Ontario, and not too far from the Canadian border. Rochester was famous for lake effect storms, where a ton of snow would get dumped on the city in a very short amount of time. Day and weekend trips included popping over to Niagara Falls, and hanging out in Toronto.
When I was 11, my mother re-married, and we relocated to Lake Placid, New York in the heart of the Adirondack mountains, again, not too far from Canada. Weekend trips included popping up to Montreal or Quebec. We even took a couple of ski week vacations to Grey Rocks Resort in the Laurentian Mountains. Pretty nifty. I just did a search on the Grey Rocks Resort and learned that the ski resort was closed back in 2009, although the golf courses continue to operate in the summer.
I graduated from Lake Placid Central High School in 1981, the year after Lake Placid hosted the 1980 winter Olympics. It was a pretty neat area to grow up in. The Adirondacks were a bit too cold for me to want to live there year round, I remember waiting for the school bus a couple of times in 30-40 below zero temperatures. One day the bus never came, it was so cold out they couldn't get any of the school buses started. An older couple saw me standing out at the bus stop freezing to death and stopped their car to let me know they just heard on the radio that school was cancelled. No one had cell phones or computers with Internet connections back then, I guess we communicated by smoke signals or something!?!
Relocate to the South
About 20 years ago I had enough of cold weather, snow, ice, etc... and went to the opposite weather extreme by moving to south east Florida. My grandparents, who are no longer with us, relocated from East Rochester, New York to Boynton Beach, Florida when I was 8 years old. So I had been coming down to south Florida on vacation for many years before deciding to move down here permanently.
My husband, who is originally from Surf City, New Jersey, and I would like to eventually semi-retire/retire somewhere in western North Carolina. I guess that would make us half backs; people from the north, that moved down south, then moved part of the way back north. Neither of us want to go back to the bitter-bitter cold, we've visited family up north a couple of times during the holidays and nearly froze to death!
I did a bead and craft show in Asheville, North Carolina around 12 years ago and fell in love with the area. Western North Carolina, with all the forests, mountains and lakes, reminds me of Lake Placid without the bitter cold. Also, there are a lot more people living in western NC; Asheville alone had a population of around 80,000. Lake Placid has a year round population of 5,000.
Pick a Town
We want to be in an area in the mountains that is within a 30 minute to 1 hour drive to Asheville, so we have been looking at towns such as Black Mountain, Maggie Valley, Hendersonville, and our number one favorite, Waynesville. We even owned property in Waynesville for a couple of years, but when the economy bellied-up we had to get rid of the property. I guess we thought we would clear the land and build a vacation home on it while still living in Florida, then eventually sell our home in Florida and retire to NC. I have a bunch of relatives living in Aiken, South Carolina which is not too far from the towns we are looking at in western North Carolina. So that would be one of the benefits of moving to NC. We don't have any relatives living near us in Florida.
I am a glass, bead, fiber and jewelry artist and really want to get back into crafting on a full time basis now that our children are all grown up. A property with a separate workshop, where I could set up my craft studio away from the house, would be ideal. I want to get back into teaching classes and selling supplies along with having an area to permanently sell my finished pieces of fused glass gifts and fused glass/beaded jewelry.
Find a Winter Workout
My husband and I do a lot of swim-bike-running year round in Florida, so I started getting worried as to what we would do to stay in shape during the winter months if we move to a more northern climate. I was looking through the fall/winter Athleta catalog, one of my favorite women's work out clothing companies. There were many photos showing models engaged in outdoor activities while modeling the various clothing. There are certain fall/winter sports activities that I could see myself participating in. Some of these activities can only be done in the winter while others are modified versions of activities that can also be done in the spring/summer.
- day hiking - I used to do a lot of hiking when I lived up north. You could even climb some of the smaller Adirondack mountains during a day hike. South Florida is pretty flat, and there aren't a lot of woods, and it's usually too hot and humid for my comfort level. Day hiking up north can be tricky because the higher the elevation becomes, the colder it gets. The solution is to wear layers of clothes and carry a small back pack so you can add/subtract clothing as needed throughout the day.
- camping - Wait, does camping count as an athletic event? It does if you hike to your camping spot, or drive to a camp site which is located near the trail head of a hiking trail or mountain. I've only gone camping a couple of times since moving to Florida, it's just too hot and humid out most of the time. I can see myself getting back into camping, especially in the early summer and early fall, if we relocate to North Carolina. A camp fire would actually be a welcome addition to the camp site. Note; western North Carolina has had problems with droughts the past few years so we would have to check if there are any restrictions regarding camp fires.
- running - I always enjoy running in cooler weather. Fall running can be done wearing warmer clothing than normal. Running in the snow/ice would require adding running cleats to the bottom of your shoes. Yaktrax make cleats that slip over your regular running shoes and enable you to run in the snow and ice without slipping all over the place. Also, I am hoping to find a lot more trail running locations than what's available in south Florida. Trail running is pretty much any trail that is off road/unpaved.
- snow shoe running - there are lightweight aluminum snow shoes which are specifically designed for fast running and racing. I have seen a few snow shoe companies advertise in the winter issues of running magazines, and there are even snow shoe running races you can compete in.
- cross country skiing - I used to love cross country skiing when I lived in Lake Placid. Cross country skiing, compared to down hill skiing, is a lot less dangerous and less expensive. As long as there is enough snow on the ground you can pretty much slap your skis on and start skiing from your front door.
- sledding/inner tubing - Maggie Valley, North Carolina has a small inner tube sledding hill that is open during the winter. I think sledding on a groomed trail would be a lot of fun that everyone would enjoy. Maggie Valley is about a 10 minute drive from Waynesville, my favorite western North Carolina town.
- ice skating - I was never any good at ice skating but I think if I invested in a good pair of skates, or even a pair of hockey skates, I would have much better ankle support and actually be able to skate. I used to love roller blading in Florida, before I got into cycling.
- snow mobiling - well, not really a sport, since you're using a motorized vehicle, but I'm putting it on the list anyways. Back in the days when I lived in Saranac Lake, NY I remember taking the snowmobile to a snow covered frozen lake and taking turns being pulled behind the snow mobile while on our downhill skis, I'm guessing cross country skis would work also - YEE HAW!!!!
Winter Activities That Don't Appeal to Me
Down hill skiing - I used to do a lot of downhill skiing when I lived up north. I was much younger then. It's been over 20 years since I've done any downhill skiing and it just doesn't seem appealing to me anymore. Downhill skiing is really expensive, with all the gear and equipment you need, and the cost of lift tickets is absurd these days. And at 48 years old, I am no longer the fearless person I once was.
Rock climbing - Chimney Rock in western North Carolina offers various rock climbing courses throughout the year, including climbing over the ice covered rocks/mountains in the winter. I'm not a fan of heights so rock climbing just seems really scary to me.
Mountain biking - winter triathlons include mountain biking with spikes installed on the tires so you can ride the bikes in the snow/ice. I sold my mountain bike 3 years ago, so since I don't mountain bike in Florida, where it's hot year round, I certainly am not interested in mountain biking in the winter up north. My husband however, is a huge mountain bike fan, so I'm sure he'll mountain bike year round. That being said, I do own a single speed cyclocross bike with slightly knobby tires. I'm sure I could ride that bike in light snow on the roads and easy trails in the woods. The cyclocross bike doesn't have any suspension so I can't ride it on mountain bike trails.
Ice fishing - doesn't really seem like a sport to me, and I think I would just be bored to tears within a very short time. And I'm a bit squirmy when it comes to live creatures. I would much rather pick my fish out at the grocery store or have it served to me ready to eat at a restaurant.
Dog sleding - the dogs seem to be doing most of the work, so unless you are training to race the Iditarod, dog sleding doesn't really seem like a sport to me.. I would probably go on a dog sled ride one time if the opportunity presented itself. But I would probably wind up felling guility about the dogs having to pull the humans and would get off the sled to run alongside it.
What are your favorite fall and winter sporting activities? Leave a reply to this blog post or send an email to email@example.com.
Lynn Smythe, AKA the Run Diva