Cold air is good for the soul

Outdoor activities planned in January can scare the pants off me if the temperature is well below zero when I wake up on said day of activities. However, this year I'm making a concerted effort to just get out there no matter what the temperature is (unless of course it's way below the foolishness level).

Saturday I planned to go cross country skiing at the state-operated Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Center, which is literally almost in my back yard. I have a season pass this year and there are just no more excuses left in my "roll-o-dex" file of creative reasons not to go outside. By the time I found all my cross country outfits and decided how many layers I needed for the very low temperatures, it was nearly noon, the sun was shining and the temperature was hovering around 9 degrees above zero. Still pretty cold for me, but off I went.

The parking lot was crowded, considering the temperature, and the lodge itself was full of folks taking their lunch breaks. Mt. Van Hoevenberg has a great little lodge with snack bar and picnic tables throughout, as well as a comfy couch arrangement in front of the fireplace. I picked up my pass and headed out with my friend and her 8 year old daughter.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country CenterThe snow was just perfect, with great coverage in the woods and on the trees, making for a gorgeous day with the sun shining through the forest canopy, dappling the trails in patchy sunlight. There was not a breath of wind blowing, allaying my fears of wind chill. Once we got going I warmed up nicely and it didn't feel at all like 9 degrees. I was quite honestly over-dressed, believe it or not.Along the trail at Van HO

We skied for about and hour and a half around the Perimeter and Flatlander loops, running into some NYSEF skiers training and also a small group of kids participating in the Bill Koch learn to ski program. This terrific program is run by the Lake Placid Ski Club. It's great seeing really little kids out on the trail enjoying their learning experience on a bitter cold day, and without complaint. Smiles abounded.Bill Koch program kids at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Center

Finishing our outing, we retired to privately owned Cascade Cross Country Center for a beer and some vittles. Cascade is only about a mile and a half from Van Hoevenberg and they're famous for their soups, chili and burgers. The 20 km of ski trails at Cascade are beautifully maintained, with wonderful mixed terrain and some great views for photo ops. You can actually connect with Cascade's trail system from Mt. Van Hoevenberg by purchasing an "inter-connect" pass at either center.

Cold, fresh air really is good for the soul and the body. Don't let it keep you indoors - once you get out and get moving you'll feel as good as I did at the end of that day - especially after the beer and bowl of chili! Check out all of the area cross country and telemark opportunities.

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