A New Way to Fight the Winter Blues

by Meghan Johnson

I don’t know about you, but right around the beginning of February, the winter blues took hold of me. Their icy grip left me feeling paralyzed with too much snow and ice on the ground to move around outside, and long lines of devoted souls behind each treadmill in Sackler’s basement gym.

One of the great things I’m learning about Boston is that it is a city of tenacious and resourceful individuals (though some might even call them eccentric). Most transportation lines stay open even when two feet of snow falls overnight, people venture out to restaurants and watering holes even when the wind chill dips below zero, and classes are held while snow steadily accumulates outside the windows. This is not a city for the faint of heart.

So, using my newfound, Boston-induced tenacity, I took decided to explore ways to get moving, despite this wretched weather.  And I stumbled upon a hidden gem: Great Brook Farm State Park.

This expansive park is home to over 10 miles of trails, perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  The Great Brook Ski Touring Center is located right off of Lowell Street in Carlisle, MA, only 30 miles from the Jaharis Building. But you’d never know you were so close to the city from the picturesque landscape of bright red barns, evergreen-lined trails, and rolling hills.

If you’ve never cross-country skied before, don’t worry about it! The trails are groomed to be fairly smooth and flat, and you can follow behind the tracks of the person in front of you to reduce your number of falls. Notice I said “reduce.” You probably will still fall a few times but that’s part of the fun! Once you get your bearings, you can venture to veer off of the groomed trials and try some of the more challenging paths with steeper hills and rockier terrain.

The best part of this great discovery is that, unlike downhill skiing which can really take a toll on a grad student’s wallet, cross country skiing at Great Brook Farm only costs you $25! This includes your $12 all-day trail pass and $13 equipment rental. If you have your own equipment, even better! The staff is very friendly and will help you find skis and boots in the right size to ensure you’re comfortable out there.

Once you get moving, you won’t even feel the biting winds. On my last two ski excursions, I was peeling off layers of Underarmor as my heart pounded and my adrenaline surged.  Not to mention, cross-country skiing is a great workout. You can burn over 600 calories in an hour while taking in the scenery and boosting your Vitamin D levels.

So what’s holding you back? Beat the winter doldrums by staying active, getting a few hours of sunlight, and trying something new. You just might like it.

Meghan Johnson is a first-year FPAN student with a specialization in Health & Nutrition Communication. She relocated to Boston from Washington DC and is doing her best to acclimate to the lingo, the bitter winds, and clam chowder.

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