By Jim Stanford on December 5, 2011
Cheer up, it’s only -13 outside.
Wouldn’t want to be in Rafter J subdivision this morning, in a home heated by electricity, as the power is out and the cold is hampering repair work.
In these frigid, short days, a time of transition before ski season fully sets in, it helps to get out of the house or office and just walk. Even a 10-minute stroll in the sun can do wonders for one’s disposition.
That’s why I’m grateful to the anonymous donor who has made possible the plowing of the Russ Garaman Trail behind the west Jackson post office, along Flat Creek. This is a move whose time has come; grooming the pathway in years past for nordic skiing was a lofty goal, but Wyoming is not Norway, and hardly anyone ever skied to school or work using the trail.
The plowing makes walking a lot easier, and makes the path a viable transportation route to, say, FedEx or Sunrise hardware on South Highway 89.
For as much progress as Jackson has made, laudably, in recent years building “complete streets,” walking around town remains difficult in winter. Even where sidewalks exist and are maintained, snow and ice can make footing treacherous, and pedestrians often wind up stepping carefully along the edge of streets. For four or five months of the year, many routes are hazardous to navigate.
And then there is the small but growing number of hardy souls pedaling their way year round. Every time I see one of these cyclists, braving black ice and frostbite, I nod my wool-and-down-swaddled head in admiration.
Town and county leaders are meeting today to consider plowing more pathways, such as along highways 89 and 390 (although some sections would be groomed for skiing beside the plowed path). Given my experience in town, this makes sense. I’ve heard grousing from friends who live on the West Bank or in Melody Ranch and complain they can’t use the paths simply to get around.
The onset of winter can be suffocating. It’s hard in a town where everyone seems to be happy all the time, and especially “stoked” for ski season, to stay positive. As much as I enjoy skiing, I, too, struggle at this time of year.
That’s why, whether walking cross town or taking a short stroll between running errands, I head to the Garaman Trail for a breath of fresh air, sunshine and peace of mind. The sinuous curves of Flat Creek and sound of water rushing over rocks always lift my spirits.