Friday, March 2, 2007

Walking in winter

As the title suggests, this post is about my experiences with walking in winter in upstate New York. But first let me start with a preamble. I love to walk. And I hate waiting for buses. If it is only 2 or 3 miles and my options were take the bus, take your car but fight for a parking spot or walk, I would any day choose walking. This is perhaps one of the reasons I liked living in Europe because there I could walk anywhere any time of the day. In suburban United States which is where I have lived, nobody walks anywhere. There are only cars on the road. In spite of this I walked a lot when I was in Florida, especially in the months of October through March, when Florida has the most perfect walking weather. Temperature in the 60’s most of the time and clear blue skies with a bright sun, heaven! And then I moved to the godforsaken hinterland of upstate New York, inside the Snow Belt. But, I stubbornly refused to change my predilection of walking everywhere and the following is an account of the experience.

I walk to work everyday. I walk through small roads and not-quite-roads that are not cleared regularly and almost never salted by the looks of them. I walk this way because it is the straight line from home to work. In any case everything was fine and dandy in the fall. And then, first came November. My sneakers started getting wet by the time I reached my office every morning and I had to take them off and let them dry. Then later in the month it got so cold that walking with wet sneakers made my feet so numb they hurt. So I went out and bought myself a pair of Faux leather shoes that did not get wet and were thick soled. And then the walking continued. Then came January and with it a whole lot of snow. First, there was may be 10 inches or so of snow on the ground. So I went out and bought myself a pair of boots that allowed me to walk through it with no damage done. And so the month progressed and the walking continued.

Then came the winter storm a few weeks back. We got 30 inches of snow in a span of 2 days. When I walked into work through this, I realized through first hand experience the hazards of walking through waist deep snow. If you lose your balance and fall (as you are bound to do) you actually go under the snow and getting back up is not easy at all as you have no surface that can lend any support! By this time I thought I had seen it all with respect to “winter walking hazards”. But then, this morning I walked in “freezing rain”, a meteorological phenomena that I don’t quite understand (something about not enough time between nucleation and precipitation for snow flakes to form). And do you know what freezing rain does to snow on the ground? It forms a layer of ice on top of it. So with every step one of two things will happen, either the ice will make you skid or the ice will give under your weight and you will find your leg disappearing into the snow and you have to use your other leg (which is hopefully free and clear) to extricate yourself from this hole! Is there more in store for me? I hope not! Oh Spring! When are you getting here?


Anonymous said...

Very interesting article. I wouldn't walk though waist deep snow if I could avoid it.

CuriousCat said...

Stumbled on a rather old post did you...? Thanks for your comment!