No, not the Olympics in Sochi (which I will watch on TV in a couple of months along with a billion other people). I mean there’s finally been a snowfall in my area just heavy enough to put a base on the trails. It’s late fall, and winter is impatient to elbow its way in. This morning in Nashua, I spent an hour at Mine Falls Park enjoying the crunch of snow beneath my sneaker-clad feet. The canal is almost-but-not-quite frozen over, and the muskrats have taken refuge wherever muskrats like to go.
Sometimes the season’s first snow in southern New Hampshire pounds us – the Halloween Eve snowstorm in 2011 dumped a foot of heavy wet snow, uprooted countless oaks & maples, and left me without electricity for four days. Other years are more like this – a couple of tentative snowfalls, just to get us ready for the inevitable big ones.
I can pull my snowshoes out of their little nook in the basement and put them closer to the door. I can look forward to hiking on those brilliant cloudless days that follow snowstorms. My favorite cross-country ski area, 45 minutes away on the eastern slope of the Wapack Range, has announced that it’ll be open for business this weekend. That means their 40km of snowshoe trails are ready to go as well. That’s a special trip for me, too far for weekly visits. A prime memory for me is a midweek trip there a few years ago, the day or two after a storm. There were a few skiers around, but I was the only snowshoer in sight, and I had all that wonderful powder to myself on the woods trails. Solitude, beauty, sunshine, and unbroken powder: does it get any better in the winter?
When the Olympics are broadcast, I will ooh and ahh over the alpine skiers. I have never learned to ski, so seeing people do it at a high level of skill is alarming and thrilling for me. I’ll cheer for the cross-country skiers, who are better-conditioned than most of us could ever hope to be. I’ll watch the snowboarding, which for my money is the most fun event to watch at the Olympics (and yes, I watch the X Games). But eventually, I’ll tire of being a spectator. The snowshoes will be right by the basement door, waiting for me.