February 10, 2013

Stomping and sliding on the snow


---- — It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about the outdoors. I took a long hiatus and enjoyed myself with the beauty of the North Country, but I’m back and I’ve got plenty to share.

Getting outside during the winter takes plenty of motivation and energy. I wonder why humans don’t hibernate like bears do. Things would be so much easier for everyone — no shoveling, no icy roads, nice warm, cozy bed — yeah, that’s a dream world for some.

But really, winter is full of excitement. So for the adventurous, when the temperatures get below freezing and the ground is covered with white stuff, the fun is getting started. Last year I took up ice fishing and dedicated myself to it.

This year has not been the same. I haven’t fished in a long time. It’s eating me up inside. And with the recent wave of warm weather, it’s not looking too promising. So without the fishing came some exploring. A buddy of mine had an extra pair of snowshoes for me to try out. We traveled to Point au Roche and set out on Long Points Trail.

Walking through the woods was enjoyable and the snowshoes gave me balance I usually don’t have hiking on snow. Although the trails were probably navigable with a pair of boots, the snowshoes helped keep my feet above the divots from previous hikers.

We made our way to Long Point and had a great view of Plattsburgh and Vermont. It felt great being out there. The waves of the water came crashing into the rocks on shore. Ice covered everything that the snow couldn’t stick to. The wind ripped through but it felt nice after working up a sweat stomping through the woods.

We went along the lake and tried to blaze our own trail, although someone and their canine had done the same another time. Here, the snowshoes felt great and were perfect for getting through everything. I cannot wait to try them on something more difficult.

The second adventure put me on a set of cross-country skis for the first time since physical-education class in high school. In high school, I was not into cross-country skiing. I’ll admit I thought it was lacking excitement.

My grandfather gave me a set of skis, poles and boots that I think were never used. I finally tried them out, and they were a blast. I went behind SUNY Plattsburgh’s Field House on the Blue Trails. I probably looked like a deer trying to walk for the first time when I started to move. I didn’t have a clue what to do.

We made it through some trails and then I started to think about how much fun the hills would be to go down. The problem was, I never really skied downhill before. I fell quite a bit. On one long hill you get quite a bit of speed, and I crashed three times. I’d fall when my feet would get too close together. I’d fall when I couldn’t turn quickly. Each time I fell I grunted, laughed and got back up and kept trucking along.

I tried it again with another beginner at the Field House and found out fresh snow is important. Trails that get used often get too much wear and tear. It makes bare ground exposed — ruining the sliding surface, but it also makes everything sort of icy and not the best surface. So my best advice for that is to get out as soon as possible when the snow falls. And if it’s been awhile, try going somewhere where you don’t think many people go.

Kyler Klix is the night editor for the Press-Republican. He moved to Plattsburgh from the Finger Lakes after graduating from Plattsburgh State. He enjoys fishing, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. Email him at kklix@press