Don’t get us wrong…there are no Scrooges among the EasternSlopes.com crew (it’s company policy). We love the holidays; the energy, family and friends…and, in particular, we love the food.
The only problem is that after a few days of rich, heavy, wonderful food, we often feel like the Hindenburg before it exploded. And, getting out for a bike ride or a run isn’t usually in the cards; there’s usually ice and snow as far as the eye can see. How to solve the problem?
The answer is simple. Most of us have some place that we can get away for a quick hike on shoes or snowshoes. Town parks, local mountains, even a nice drive through the winter wonderland to a national forest; any of them can get you to a place where you can get out, shake off the blahs, breathe in some cold, clean air…oh, and eat some more!
In our family, stockings are often stuffed with delicacies…and, just as often, those delicacies sit in our pantry waiting for the “right occasion” to use them. And, sometimes, after a few years we look at them, question our sanity for keeping them around that long, and pitch them before we contemplate seat-of-the-pants testing for botulism. Why not solve the problem by throwing them into a backpack instead of the pantry?
2011 was kind to us; December 26 turned out to be a sunny, relatively warm day with just enough bite in the wind to make hot cocoa on top of a mountain sound really appealing. Even with a slow start, Bradbury Mountain in Pownal, ME, was easily do-able for us, about a 40 minute drive from our house. You have your choice of there’s a short, relatively steep climb to the summit, or longer trails that wind around the mountain. Either way, the views from the top are lovely, and there’s a nice rocky section to put down camp chairs and spread out your picnic. Plus, dogs are allowed and encouraged; for us, that meant that not only we, but also Barley our mutant Golden, could enjoy the fresh air.
So, up we went. With little snow, ice is a guarantee, so traction aids like Kahtoola Microspikes or YakTrax are a good idea when getting out until the snow is deep; trekking poles are even more important. We equipped ourselves with both…a little more weight carried = more calories burned, right? We ended up only using the poles, but there were times we questioned our wisdom, and were glad we had the Kahtoolas in our packs just in case.
And…it was lovely. A short hike, and we were at the top right at 1 o’clock, perfect timing for lunch. Even after the gastronomic insanity of the past few days, we were hungry; fresh air will do that for you! Out came the “fun food”: smoked baby clams, black olive tapenade on Triscuits, duck pate, and dried figs for dessert. Our Jetboil Sol produced hot water in minutes, and we had Swiss Miss hot cocoa (the sugar free kind, of course; we wouldn’t want to overdo it!) to wash it all down.Pure decadence!
After an hour or so of relaxing, watching a few clouds blow by and a few birds flying around, we packed back up again and headed down, Barley taking the lead. The conversation was lighter, the laughter more regular than on the way up; there’s something about being outside that takes away all of the sludge in our bodies and minds. Thanks to our little picnic, in a matter of hours we’d beaten the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that so often comes after the holidays!
The moral of the story? When you’ve been overstimulated for days and have zero energy, force yourself to get out into Mother Nature’s back yard; it won’t take long before you regain your perspective, your energy, and your sense of humor. And, perhaps best of all, you won’t end up wasting pantry space on those Christmas goodies!