FINDING STRENGTH WITHIN THE STORM…(One girls story of trading flip flops for microspikes?)
What do you call a Snowman with a 6-pak? An Abdominal Snowman!!!
Happy January Sandpoint. Is there anyone else out there who does not love winter? I mean, anyone besides me who secretly does a non-snow dance in their living room when it doesn’t snow? I say secretly, because you have to be very secretive about your dislike for snow when you live in a mountain town. Otherwise, you’re likely to get burned at the steak down town by all the other snow loving people. I used to live in Tahoe, I spent 18 years in South Lake Tahoe, California. I know, strike 2, saying the C-word up here is almost as sacrilegious as saying “I don’t like snow.” In Tahoe, you just don’t t say, “I don’t really like winter.” There are Pray for Snow parties every weekend, even in the summer. People look at you like you have 5 heads if you say you don’t like the snow, because they live for it there. Winter of 2017, it was the worst (or best to some people). There was so much snow. I vividly remember, as a single woman, countless mornings of getting up at 3:45am (I’m a personal trainer, that’s what time we get up because people need us for their 5am workouts!!!) Putting on my snowsuit, and wading out into the knee-deep snow to dig out the burm the plow guy had so kindly barricaded me and my car behind. And because it was so early, it’d be pitch dark. One particular morning as I shoveled in the dark, I remember telling myself; “You find strength within the storm, Tara, You find strength within the storm.” As I choked through the ugly tears, I saw a yellow blinking light coming to my rescue. It was the plow guy. Even though I glared at him with all my might, he saw my struggle and asked me if he could help. With one big effortless sweep of his giant shovel, all my troubles were gone. Except the next morning when my lights were on at 4am, he was knocking on my door asking for a date. I vowed that year to leave winter and never return. I sold my car, left my career, packed up, and moved to an island off the coast of Belize to start a wellness retreat. Some may say it was more of a mid-life crisis. But four weeks into working on my skin cancer and drinking way too many coconut coladas, my dream guy showed up. (No, not the plow guy!!) He scooped me up and brought me to North Idaho. Not just Idaho, but North Idaho. People, it’s a whole different kind of winter up here!! It’s like more wintery than Tahoe, if that is even possible. My friends told me, Don’t do it!! Don’t go!! They said “IDA-NO!!! IDA-SNOW!!!”
I landed here last March, in a gloomy, gray, tail end of winter that wouldn’t end. I questioned my sanity as I packed away all of my bikinis. I started snow-shoeing with my boyfriend up near Schweitzer. We would do this with our dogs everyday. Two giant, fluffy Alaskan Malamutes and my French Bulldog named Little. They needed exercise and so did we, so it’s a win-win. Right? No! Not if you don’t have the right equipment. My boyfriend was well equipped with all the best gear. He loaned me a pair of his kids old snow shoes. Big, clunky tubes with no traction that were so wide they’d bang into each other with every step. Every so often I’d trip over my own feet, landing face first in the snow. This is coming from a girl who can sprint or squat in 6” heels. How could snow-shoeing be so awkward? I had old LL Bean boots from 20 years ago, my toes hurt. Every time we’d go downhill, snow would get in my boots and that was it. Enough!! Boyfriend, however was armored in gators, which up until then I thought were just something gapers wore so they could ski in their jeans. I would curse him from a quarter mile behind under my breath…”This is not going to work out!”
Lesson number 1 in embracing winter…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY BAD CLOTHING.” It’s a Norwegian saying I first read in a John C. Maxwell book. This was like a lightbulb going off over my head. We must acknowledge that winter is a real thing, and that it is going to be cold. We have to accept it and then dress appropriately.
This season, I’m much better equipped. I now own my first pair of gators and not once this season has snow gotten into my boots. I got better boots too. And I learned what an outer shell is, and that most cute jackets are not waterproof. Even my rain jacket wasn’t waterproof. I’m learning about the importance of fleece and layers, so I don’t overheat. Who knew you could overheat outside, in the winter?! Even my dog Little is more prepared for winter this year. His k-9 apparel fleece-lined goretex jacket keeps him dry on his daily snow-shoe hikes. Another trick to help embrace and enjoy winter…INVEST IN QUALITY GEAR. For Christmas this year, guess what I got? MSR Lightning Ascent snow-shoes, the top of the line. What a world of a difference. They are pricey, at $300, but also ultralight, weighing only 4lbs 1oz. Super narrow so you can actually stride along with your feet in line with your hips. I can run in these bad boys! They have serrated traction for icy conditions and steep, challenging terrain. Investing in good gear can give you an unparalleled experience. My only complaint is that the MSRs do not come in pink.
Also, If you want to enjoy or get better at winter sports, or any sport for that matter…GO WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER THAN YOU…I consider myself pretty fit, I’m a personal trainer. So why was I so slow snow-shoeing? I wasn’t conditioned to it. There are some things the gym can’t prepare you for. Sometimes you just have to get out there and do the things you suck at. Whatever sport it is that you’re pursuing, if you want to get better at something, go with people who are better than you and you will get better. Keep doing the thing you suck at, until you suck less. At least that’s what I’m telling myself this year as I push myself over the edge of Kaniksu on my snowboard. But that’s another story. Lastly, if you want to enjoy winter more, COME OUT OF HIBERNATION. If skiing isn’t your thing, bundle up and take an invigorating walk outside. Our bodies perform better when we move. Exercising our bodies and our minds isn’t about being thin or a certain size, it’s about being healthy, feeling strong and being able to play without getting too winded. Channel your inner ski-bunny and go get a cute furry hat at the Alpine shop. Just get outside and get moving. Then enjoy your fuzzy socks, and a warm drink later by the fire.
Sandpoint, You are a dreamy little town and I’ve fallen in love with you. It’s been almost a year, so that almost makes me a local. For the first time in years, I’m enjoying winter. Thank-you. Currently, I only curse the boyfriend when the driveway is a sheet of ice and I have to crawl up the driveway on all fours. He laughs and tells me to just put on my micro-spikes to walk home. Luckily, I have those too now.