How Not to Lose Your Mind During Shoulder Season

Shoulder season

Well friends, it’s that time of year. The snow is melting into great big puddles of muddy muck, running/biking/hiking trails are too damp to run/bike/hike on, and temps do not yet merit breaking out your beer cooler and bee-lining it to the nearest body of water.

We have arrived at shoulder season.

Much like the waning moments of an epic weekend, shoulder season is, for us outdoor folk, a very sad time. It is a season without a sport in some regards. Sure, the occasional springtime snowstorm will blow its way in. With a brain steeped in stoke and a heart gripped by gratitude, you’ll rise to greet every powdery inch of it. But before you can say, “GET PITTED,” that powder will be gone; inevitably followed by a string of drizzly, mild, fog-laden days peppered with the occasional fair weather tease.

Now, we here in New England are uniquely qualified to speak to the woes of shoulder season, but not all have come to know its struggles. To those who recreate in more temperate environments, we salute you. As you saddle up your two-wheeled steeds or pack your bags for the crag, we will be right there with you…in spirit…poring over your sun-baked Instagrams in a fit of jealousy.

Pity us not, though, for we northeasterners are of the glass-half-full-of-beer variety. We pride ourselves in looking at our temperamental weather through rose-colored goggles. Thus, every year around this time, we shift our focus to other noble pursuits. Take a gander at some of the ways we’ve found to fill this awkward in-between time and learn how not to lose your mind during shoulder season.

Hone your skills

Any true outdoors person knows that the skills needed to succeed outside are not limited to your ability to ski down or climb up a mountain.

No, not by a long shot.

Ever scroll your way through Instagram and double tap an exceptional gear shot? Behind those perfectly organized kits are countless hours spent meticulously refining gear selections and acquiring the skills necessary to shoot them. Pull out your camera and get snappin’.

Explore the great indoors

It may be hard to imagine, but there are things to do inside. Dip your toes in the local arts and culture scene by checking out museums, galleries, and music venues. Put a few pennies aside and treat yourself to a fine meal, or beer that can’t be bought at a gas station.

Speaking of which, do you live in or around a mountain town?

Chances are there’s at least a brewery or five nearby. If all else fails, head to your favorite gear shop where you can drool over the latest technical innovations and commiserate with those who speak your language.

Call your grandma

Or your uncle, or sister, or college roommate; whoever you have sorely neglected to keep in touch with during the winter months.

We get it. With dawn patrols and snow chasing on the brain it can be hard to give proper attention to the important human relationships in your life. There may be no friends on a powder day, but that powder is gone now and it’s high time you sit down and check in with the people you love.

Develop a new habit

Preferably a healthy one. After all, the idea here is to not succumb to the folds of your couch and the allure of subscription television.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Someday I’d like to try run commuting,” now’s the time to do it. The excellent thing about pavement-based physical activity is that, for the most part, it can be enjoyed regardless of the weather. That road bike gathering dust in the back of your gear garage is good for a lot more than keeping your skis propped up. Get it in for a quick tune, grab some solid rain wear, and make your best effort to trade in four wheels for two.

Learn to accept that which you can not change

In the end we must all shake hands with the truth: we can not control the weather. Allow Mother Nature’s indifference toward your personal desires to humble you. Keep your spirits up during these fickle days and by the time summer takes hold, each drop of sunshine will taste that much sweeter.

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Published:March 30, 2017

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