I’m biased and my bias will show in this blog. My bias: I believe we live in the best region, the Pikes Peak region, in the best state when it comes to climate, access to nature, and to the variety of outdoor experiences regardless of the time of year. (I know I run the risk of hearing “shhhh…don’t let out the secret!”) And now, maybe more than ever, I want to remember that interaction with nature is good for the soul. Outdoor experiences are good for my mental, physical, and emotional health – even in, or maybe especially in, winter.
SGBMedia recently posted an article which included the Norwegian word, friluftsliv: “embracing outdoor adventures no matter your age in all weather.” The article touts the uptick of sales in outdoor recreation gear, particularly in running, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The pandemic drove people outdoors in the summer of 2020, and the article predicts that the trend will continue through the winter. The article also briefly mentions the need for appropriate apparel as we pursue these adventures. We’ve talked about layering for safety here before and for being aware of the risk of hypothermia.
Another recent article featured the keynote presentation at the SHIFT Summit which reinforced the health benefits – mental, physical, emotional – from experiences in the outdoors. We’ve written about that, too, on this blog. Co-owners David and Becky Leinweber have, in the past, presented on these health benefits. The good news is that these nature experiences don’t all have to be in the mountains, in the backcountry, found on slopes, or pursued on snowshoes or skinny skis. The article touts the value of urban outdoor experiences.
If friluftsliv means we can pursue these adventures “no matter your age,” then it can also include a broad definition of outdoor adventures. I never inherited much of an adrenaline-junkie gene, so the need for “a rush” from black diamond ski runs or severe pitches on a rock face is not a driving factor in my life. As I get older, that drive is slowing down to grandpa-on-the-highway speed. But I still thrive on the outdoor experiences.
So here’s another bias: we can take walks in the Garden of the Gods. We can drive up to the Crags for a Saturday hike or to the Florissant Fossil Beds. We can head to Mueller State Park. We can take a walk or run on the Santa Fe Trail. We can be as rigorous or as relaxed as we want along the Rampart Range – and we still get the healing and restorative power of nature. And we can go fly fishing.
So, since my boss wants me to write about fly fishing, let me add a paragraph or two. Around here, we call winter fly fishing “the secret season.”
Winter fly fishing offers huge challenges. Fish are sluggish, almost hibernating. Their metabolism slows. They eat, of course, but they won’t move very far for the offerings. Fly fishing calls for some shifts in approach to get the right fly pattern in the right drift. It calls for being attentive to your rigging; some anglers tighten up the gap between weight and first fly, and first fly to terminal fly.
We’re blessed to have some great winter fisheries not too far from our home base in Colorado Springs. In under an hour from Angler’s Covey, we can be fishing the Arkansas tailwaters out of Lake Pueblo and the waters of the South Platte watershed: Deckers, Cheesman Canyon, Elevenmile Canyon, or (just a little more than an hour) the Dream Stream.
I fished the Arkansas River flowing east of the reservoir with my nephew and our Director of Services, Jon Easdon, on Saturday. It was 22 degrees when we arrived and 47 when we left in mid-afternoon. And it was five hours of a great time. (I know, I know: Saturday was not “winter fly fishing.” Don’t get so technical; instead get outdoors!)
Get outdoors. Every morning my dog makes me take him for a walk along the Cottonwood Creek Trail. Every. Dang. Morning. Cloudy skies or clear. Snowy weather or dry. He’s ready sometimes before I am, before the sun has even risen.
Or, maybe, I make him take me. Maybe I use this 30-minute walk as an excuse to start my day with the brisk air of a Colorado morning.
My day gets off to a better start because of this walk. I might be a little less enthusiastic on some days when I put his harness on, pull on my boots, slip on my jacket, clip on his leash. Sometimes it’s a brisk walk. Sometimes it’s a meander along side Cottonwood Creek.
But always, it is just what I needed.