Sunday offered the perfect combination of bright sunshine and cold temperatures to be outside. A walk around the block is nice, a walk in the woods is better, but I opted to meet in the middle and picked a rail trail walk. Rail trails are usually paved, and as the name implies they run straight for miles following old railroad beds. The advantage is good footing with much of what a walk in the woods offers. With early snow last week the rail trail was a highway of packed powder extending for miles, a snowmobiler’s dream for sure, and I’m grateful that they groomed the trail for the rest of us.
The Windham Rail Trail changes with every season. We’re deep into a New Hampshire winter now, even if “winter” doesn’t officially begin until December 21st. Snow came early and lingers with sustained freezing temperatures. Perfect conditions for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing, and I saw a few of each out on the trail. With the packed powder I opted for micro spikes on my boots and never regretted the choice. Walking for miles on packed powder snow is a similar workout to walking on beach sand, with just enough give to increase the workload but not so much that your progress is stalled; 10,000 steps with a little extra effort.
Today it all changes, with warm temperatures and rain washing away the magic snow carpet I traveled on. By tomorrow night it will be a slushy mess with bare spots. And then Wednesday brings colder temperatures and new snow and a completely different trail will emerge. The old expression about New England weather saying to wait five minutes and it will be completely different applies especially well to the rail trail. I’m happy to have caught it when conditions were perfect, but I suspect I’d have enjoyed it no matter the conditions. To be outside is to accept the world as it comes to you, a perfectly stoic outlook.