Greg Dunn Sings the North Georgia Mountain Winter Blues
Well it’s January again, my least favorite month of all. I’m growing weary of all this cold wet weather and shorter days, but we have at least 6 more weeks of this mess so I might as well accept it.
I love to spend as much time as possible outside so in order to get my time in during these winter doldrums, I have to put out a little more effort with planning, timing and attire.
To get the volume of outdoor exercise that I NEED– I– like most, have to schedule it around work. Since I work outside, planning my activities according to the weather is a must. For instance, yesterday, it rained almost all day. I had a couple small projects to finish outside so I had to use the few short breaks of dry sky to finish work. I realized at this point that if I wanted to get in a workout at all, it would have been during a rain shower.
Mountain biking is my typical activity of choice. Riding in the rain is tolerable, but since it was only about 45 degrees it made more sense for me lace up my trail running shoes for a jog on Old Dial Road. Old Dial, like many of the forest service roads in the area, is covered with a canopy of trees, which helps protect against the rain. Since the road parallels the river, it’s somewhat sheltered from the wind. So suddenly the rain shower and wind aren’t as big a deal. 40 minutes of jogging was enough to get my fix and I stayed comfortable because of where I chose to run.
Exploring the abundance of trails in north Georgia is a great way to get outside and exercise with a little extra protection from the wind and rain. Most trails in the area are deep under the canopy of the forest. Take Flat Creek Trail for example. A 5.9-mile loop and part of the Aska Trail System, Flat Creek offers a full canopy almost the entire loop. About half of the loop is climbing which will keep the heart rate higher and you warmer. Since the loop stays on the lower eastern slopes of Davenport Mountain, it is even more protected from the wind, which makes it a great winter trail to explore.
Choosing the right clothing is so important when it comes to outdoor exercise. A good synthetic base layer and socks is where you want to start.
Synthetic materials like polypropylene are excellent for ventilation and wicking moisture from the body. Wool is a great insulator and has excellent moisture wicking properties.
Companies like Smartwool, Patagonia, and The North Face all make high tech synthetic and wool attire for any condition but are a bit pricey so I am always looking for alternatives that still actually perform. Target stores for instance, carries Champion brand clothing, which makes a complete line of synthetic performance gear from undies to windbreakers that are affordable and actually work. I was in Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and found a base layer T-shirt from Starter brand for five bucks. It fits well and wicks away moisture, which is key for comfort during inclement weather.
We can all find excuses for not spending enough time exercising in the winter. If you love the beauty of the outdoors but hate cold weather try getting that heart rate up a little more.
With the proper attire and the right choice of terrain it is possible to stay warm and dare– I say it– have a blast in crappy weather. We are fortunate in north Georgia to have the beautiful trails and terrain that make it possible to explore year-round regardless of weather.
We have hundreds of miles of forest roads and trails to choose from, so do yourself a favor and check them out. I can almost guarantee it will help you get through the next few weeks a little happier and healthier!
For more information about the trails in north Georgia visit: www.georgiatrails.com