Guest post by Gary Blockus, January 29, 2016
A lot of people hate the snow, and the 31.7-inch near blizzard that hit the Lehigh Valley last Saturday is a pretty good reason why.
But my wife and I absolutely love the snow, and not just for downhill skiing.
Thanks to an abundant snowfall the past four years, Lois and I have been hitting the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor – the D&L Trail – from Cementon up to Slatington and all trailheads in between on cross country skis.
There is absolutely no way to explain to people the joy of cross-country skiing and the actual comfort despite sometimes facing strong winds and bone-chilling temperatures. Side-by-side, we trek along virgin snow to cut tracks that will be used by us, a handful of other cross-country skiers, deer, coyotes, turkeys, rabbits, and even snowshoers.
You can’t run or walk outdoors in the cold and possibly be as warm as you are while cross country skiing because of the way you use your full body at whatever pace is comfortable for you. You don’t have to go fast or far to enjoy the snow-blanketed beauty along the Lehigh River. I’m one whose fingers perpetually get cold while running once temperatures dip below 60-degrees Fahrenheit no matter what kind of gloves I wear, but there’s something about grabbing and releasing the poles that keeps the fingers warm whether you head out for three miles or seven miles.
Because the skies have ridge bottoms, they actually sound like they’re talking or singing as you stride along, and when you pass by some of the ridge cliffs, you second guess the sound as someone talking from above.
We even go at night, with headlamps to light our way, and the snow at night is always a little easier to glide over if the tracks are cut because it ices up just a touch.
Fresh animal tracks are more recognizable if you go up and back like we do (instead of point to point with one car at one trailhead and the other car at another trailhead).
Two years ago, we even saw black bear tracks at night near the Treichler’s Bridge, which came after a weekend thaw. A local Wildlife Conservation Officer explained that sometimes a thaw will awaken a bear from hibernation, but once it sees there is no available food source, it will den up again.
We’re very grateful that such a wonderful resource is literally in our backyard.