arrghhh… -15ºF (-26ºC)

My friend who continues to run even in winter (in preparation for marathons) had once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.

I chuckled and shook my head thinking: ‘Crazy SOB’ as I looked at his photo in head-to-toe body hugging running gear.

I (used to) trek mountain peaks – the cold and wind can be bone chilling cold … I often had to check if my extremities are still in tact. So, when it was said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes … that sounded really crazy. See, we  crazy mountain goats wannabe were all decked out in the mother-of-mother parka, waterproof pants lined with (merino – if you had the dole) shearling, anti-slipped gloves that fitted snugly – you need your fingers to grip, that is assuming you actually still have any sensation in them, and waterproof boots that weighed tonnes as the hours progressed in them.

I always felt two things in these: FAT. and FAT

OK. Beyond F-A-T and hence, clumsy, I often burned in them.

As body heat is released and trapped, I felt suffocated from my waist upwards, whilst my extremities continued to be icy cold despite the gloves and my cheeks felt as if it was stretched to the max and ‘burnt’ like a badly made drumhead.

With this, I had thought the best solution was really to buy Gore-tex that burns a huge hole in the pocket, which like the boots, gets heavier by the hour. This of course was something I discovered while dragging my sorry arse up yet another peak that’s really not visible until 3 days of torturous trekking accompanied by chants to psyche myself up since I’ve been told that ‘it’s all in the mind’.

{yes, I really should stop getting sucked into words – advertising and super phony taglines}

So, when I was told that I had to be in New Berlin and Hamilton up north in New York state this winter with weather forecasts of -15ºF (-26ºC), I was far from ecstatic. More so when I had to spend some time in California prior to that, followed by Nevada, Arizona, then Singapore… The sequence of: warm, freezing cold, warm, warm and warm, guaranteed only one thing – illness.

OK. Frankly, I didn’t like the thought of having to lug along serious winter wear … I didn’t really have gears that was flattering. See, I own mountaineering clothes, and mountaineering clothes are practical outdoor clothes with technologically R&D-ed stuff built into their synthetic material to keep you warm. Read: not exactly fashionable on 5th Avenue, New York City.

Buying fashionable winter wear just seemed a bit sinful for 0.016 of a year utilization. And had I been given enough time, at least I could have hunted down some online store bargain for a Burberry boots that I’ll love … which ironically would disregard the fact that it will only be worn for 6 days.

But, truthfully, I’ve never been in exposed to the thick of winter, more so one that is this bitter.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The view through the Amtrak train windows was terrifying. The sound of beating snow storm against it whenever the train pulled over at a station confirmed my worst fears…

………………………………………………………………………………………… … but one gotta do what one gotta do.

As the announcement came through the speakers that we were pulling up into Utica, New York in 5-7 minutes, I got up, took my backpack off the overhead rack, pulled my fleece turtle neck over my cotton tee and Eddie Bauer’s thermal top, slipped into a down blanket that somehow had armholes and sleeves sewn into them, and coiled a prickly wool scarf around my neck and looped it above my head to protect it from the overzealous frozen flakes that has gleefully given in to gravity.

Gingerly, I stepped out of the train onto the platform to face mother nature head-on.

The first blast of cold wind that hit me was … well, surprisingly not as cold as I had anticipated. The hundreds of frozen mini-droplets of frozen water on the other hand was a totally different story.

Over the next 24 hours, I had stomped into snow beds 14″ high – the pristine white condition was just too tempting, cleared a 20 feet pathway with my boots for my sister who persist to weather the weather in sports shoes, made a snow angel, and stood on street corners and in the middle of the roads for photo ops. Long story short, I discovered a few things noteworthy:

  • it is in the mindproof point: when I’m busy clicking away without gloves and the bulky scarf around my neck, I surprisingly felt no cold and am well aware where all my fingers are as they were mechanically working the camera dials subconsciously,
  • there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes – proof point: things are manageable and surprisingly warm and toasty with the right thermal and waterproof outerwear – I survived comfortably both in-doors and out-doors with a thin waterproof coat with good merino shearling over a fleece and a good thermal. By shedding my parka I don’t have the bulk or weight to weigh me down and cringe at my reflection.
  • loving bitter winters does not make you a SOB – proof point: by the 2nd day I was inquiring about real estates! Sure, I may be nuts, but I am not a guy so the SON-{blip} does not apply to me … But on a serious note, after 72 hours in North Country (New York), I can’t get enough*!

Bitterly winds and endless white powder does make it all the more prettier … but, this comes from someone sitting and typing away in a small lovely boutique hotel (Colgate Inn, Hamilton) that’s well heated and does not have to worry about shoveling snow off the driveway at the very least twice a day!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

 What I was not prepared for though was the wind chills – how snappy dry they made my skin in sheer minutes!

………………………………. … and thankfully for that, I stayed out for brief periods of time, not realizing one could end up with hypothermia or frostbites.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


*As if I have been heard by the Heavenly Gods, the news channel blaring in the background goes on and on about thousand of train and flight cancellation, schools and office shut downs, road blockage – some news links below:

Bitter cold grips Northeast as new Arctic blast looms

Nor’easter blasts millions with snow, wind and bitter cold

‘Coldest air in decades’ to follow storm, with temperatures set to plummet further

hmmm … when will I shake off my ‘luck’ of flight cancellation? 



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