Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snowy Adventures

Dark silhouettes of trees and houses created a striking contrast to the white snow-covered New Jersey cliffside. The partially-frozen Hudson River boasted large floating ice chunks to the east, while strong chilling currents rushed along the west side of the river. The snow-dusted GW bridge looked splendid against the white cliffside, with the light grey sky above and silvery waters below. It was a picture-perfect scene in every respect. This is the kind of day when I wish I would bring my camera on runs... or at least my iphone. Running along the Hudson River Greenway this afternoon was such a treat - the views were simply breathtaking!!

Once again, I was a lonely runner braving the elements in sub-freezing temps. Running in solitude is one of my favorite pastimes - the luxury of being out in nature, alone with your thoughts and the beautiful world around you. It's a time to feel truly alive, with your feet striking the ground in time and your rhythmic stride carrying you forward.

The run began on relatively clear paths; the sidewalks around the apartment were essentially snow-free. The hill leading down to the Hudson Greenway was also fairly clear (minus a few strategically placed ice patches). I didn't hit snow until the wooden footbridge that passes over the West Side Highway... the staircase had become a solid slope of snow! Turning sideways and clinging to the railing for dear life, I slowly inched my way down the icy slope with tentative baby steps. Upon reaching the Greenway, clear pathways greeted me once again and it was smooth sailing for a while.

As I neared the end of the greenway (by the Little Red Lighthouse) and wound my way up the hill, the terrain got progressively worse. The path was completely covered in snow, where footprints from adventurous pedestrians left an uneven snowy obstacle course. I braced myself and plunged up the hill, slipping and sliding and nearly falling over the entire way... it was a pathetic excuse for a run, yet I could not resign myself to walk. By the time I reached the 181th St footbridge on the Henry Hudson Parkway, enough was enough. The pathway ahead was covered in packed snow as far as the eye could see. Trying to keep my balance was an awesome core workout, but at the end of the day who wants to be constantly worrying about slipping every 5 seconds? Not my idea of fun.

Since the GW bridge was right there, I endeavored to find the pedestrian entrance. This has been a goal of mine since moving to the city 10 months ago. However, no matter what random roads or paths I explored, I never stumbled upon the right place. Today, as I headed down 177th searching for the elusive bridge entrance, a man walking in the other direction shouted at me "It's closed!" I didn't really care if it was closed, I just wanted to know where it was. I tried asking him but it was futile. Don't think he understood English very well. All he could say was "It's closed! Come this way!" And so we went to scope out the entrance on the northern side, which was guarded by a locked gate. Apparently both entrances had both become icy snow slopes that were unsafe and therefore closed. Not minding at all, I continued onwards, completely thrilled that I FINALLY discovered the pedestrian entrances.

Shortly after the bridge a ramp on my right beckoned to me. It appeared to lead down to the water level. My adventurous streak took over, and having no idea where I would end up, I plunged into the unknown. Skidding down long rampways and jogging down snowy slopes, my immediate goal was to reach the bottom as quickly as possible without falling. I ended up alongside the beginning of the Henry Hudson Parkway - go figure. Knowing where I was didn't necessarily mean I knew where to go from there, and all around, pathways were covered with an even layer of completely untouched snow, about 16" deep. There was no choice but to continue onwards, so with high knees, and even higher spirits, I jogged through the knee-deep snow drifts. My socks were completely drenched, snow was caked around my ankles, my leggings were soaked, and my toes were going numb, but I was having the time of my life!!! It was like being a kid again, frolicking in knee-deep snow. Pure, white, untouched snow is such a rare and beautiful luxury in the city, that for a brief instant, I nearly forgot I was in New York.

The dream was short-lived and reality hit again when I reached the edge of the highway ramp. Continuing alongside the ramp, I ended up on Riverside Drive - finally! - and proceeded home. For the rest of the day, my mind kept flashing back to moments from the run... the breathtaking views of the Hudson River, the snow covered hills and slopes, the forest filled with pure untouched snow... it was all so perfect and peaceful.

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