Serene Scenery

There’s still a gritty side left to Leadville, Colorado. I return to this old mining town at least once a season to soak in the high altitude air and get my sport on. This time it was cross-country skiing along Turquoise Lake. Although the snow was soft, the skies were blue until the storm moved in the last three songs of my 75-minute jaunt.

Twas peaceful, just me and the ice-fishermen. Photo essay tells the story.

The lake in winter

Behold Mt. Massive

Freshly groomed track for the last 3 songs

"The sky darkened on time" -Elvis Costello

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As if we needed a reminder that Arctic blasts are best left squirting out of soda cans or Peppermint Patties, the mini Ice Age left many of us here in the good ol’ USA f-f-f-f-reezing into this week.

Here in Colorado we got sick amounts of new snow in the mountains and a smattering of inches here and there in Denver proper. And every time we get a few new inches, I break out the cross-country gear and literally hit the street. My cross-country gear is older than most college seniors, but it still gets the job done. It’s scraped from too many meetings with the pavement; the wood core peeks through its grey veneer; and it has absolutely zero edges. These elans are great for short (read: under two hours) jaunts out in the woods or the streets just west of Downtown Denver.

Unlike snowboarding, when cross-country skiing, I dress in very few layers. Knowing me and my body’s inclinations, the most important things to keep warm are my fingers, toes, and ears. So I donned the lined knit cap, my second warmest gloves, my wool trusties, and scraped and glided along the packed-down Denver roads.

I donned the iPod, an absolute must when doing exercises that, upon closer inspection, can suck. I enjoy the rhythmic movements of cross-country skiing, the back-and-forth that resembles so many aspects of my life. I enjoy the gliding, where for a few stolen moments, the only work you’re doing is trying not to work. I love the solitude, because believe me, I’m one of the few and the proud exercising outside on a day where the temps crawled up to a balmy 9 degrees.

But slogging and scraping and sliding along I went, guided by Madonna’s first hit “Holiday,” which reminded me of how lucky I am to be cruising outside on a Tuesday morning. After “Holiday” I was treated to some unknown rap music. And with the music gods guiding me, NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” came on just as I reached the local park and began breaking trail.

So appropos.

Conditions: Hazy, winter-fog, temps hovering near zero

Clothing: Soft shell Patagonia jacket, polyester base layer, fleece shirt, lined knit hat

Calories burned: According to fitnessonline, 700 calories. I did not stop once to catch my breath, but I’m rather inclined to agree.

Duration: One hour

I started to hang tough, right about here