Trading in tails for trails

As the storms roll in off the northern Pacific and we are experiencing the shortest days of the year, finding productive places to fish can be problematic.

Yes, there are places to fish, but sometimes putting our rods aside for a bit can make fishing new again when we return.

Notice that all sports are seasonal. Would you really want football to go all 12 months of the year?

In the last few years, I have returned to cross country skiing, having dabbled in it during the time I lived in Truckee during the late 1970s. A large part of the allure of fishing is being outdoors. The maxim “Trout don’t live in ugly places” comes to mind. ­­

Cross country gets you outside in some of the most beautiful environments nature has to offer. The learning curve is moderate, the cost is modest, and we live so close to the snow that not finding a way to play there in the winter is an opportunity lost.

When I chose to get back into recreating on the snow, I looked for the local Nordic skiing club that I heard existed in the area. I just showed up at a meeting and was welcomed.

I had picked up used gear for less than $100, and what I wanted was information on places to go as well as people to go with and learn from. The Nordic Skiers of Nevada County fill that bill quite nicely.

This season we have had great snow conditions at low elevations. The closest place to get out for a couple of hours is the Alpha-Omega Scenic Overlook 17 miles above town on Highway 20.

At just over 5,000 feet of elevation, this ridge top can be barren of snow when the “Pineapple Express” storm track comes from the south. Currently, there are a couple of feet of snow on the ground and more on the way.

In the 1980s, the Nordic Club, in conjunction with the Forest Service, marked a ski/snowshoe trail east from the parking lot that extends along the ridge top toward the head waters of Steep Hollow Creek.

The ski trail is designated with blue squares nailed to the trees a dozen feet above the ground. The same trail is marked with brown plastic posts in the ground for summer hiking and bicycle users.

The trail rises gently as you head east without any major hills. This is an ideal place to go for beginners. On the weekends, you will see numerous others on the trail with snowshoes and skis. Closer to the parking area is a great snow play area for kids.

On weekdays you can have it almost to yourself. I have been up three time so far this year. It is my “get back into the sport” warm-up spot.

I am not much for exercise for its own sake. I do not do push-ups at home. I prefer exercise as incidental to other activities, such as fishing a river, rowing my boat trolling on a lake or skiing to be outside on the snow.

Once you get the rhythm of Nordic skiing, it is easier than walking. You get a bit of glide with each step, and going down a slight slope is like coasting on a bike.

I like to get my workout outdoors rather than in. It does not seem so much work this way. Given where we live, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy winter.

Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at www.fineflies.com.


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The Union Updated Jan 10, 2013 08:42PM Published Jan 11, 2013 10:58PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.