getoutside

Snow Days

I watched the weather carefully over the last week.  Promises of snow here in the Atlanta area are rare.  Growing up in Massachusetts I’m no stranger to snow.  As a child, snow had a way of bringing excitement, and drew me to the outdoors.  Some days it was sledding down snowy roads with friends, others we would just venture off into the snowy woods, crossing frozen creeks and charting new paths through areas we hadn’t explored.  When snow blankets the ground it’s like a new world.  Everything seems quiet, bright, and new, washed in white. Now that I’m grown, and partially conditioned by the local fear of snow covered roads, my default is usually to hide inside with the rest of the masses.  I’ve been taught to always think; “what’s the worst that can happen”, and plan from there to be safe.  But all too often enough, I don’t plan for “what’s the best that can happen”.  Because you just don’t know the limits of how good of a day it could be.

I rounded up a crew the evening before the snow started to fall, and planned a trip only knowing one thing; it was going to be a beautiful day in the snow covered mountains.  In my excitement I didn’t even check the highs for Saturday until I woke up an hour before I was to leave.  I then stepped outside to warm up the truck and was surprised to find there wasn’t much snow this far south of the mountains, mostly solid ice.  I ignored the temperatures (high of 24F) and my own nervousness of navigating icy roads, packed my rods and camera gear and headed north towards Blue Ridge and Noontootla Creek Farms (NCF).

To my surprise, everybody showed.   Even though what would normally be an hour and a half drive turned into a three hour white knuckled slip and slide, we all arrived unharmed.  Of course the day was filled with the standards woes of the season (frozen guides, hands, toes, etc.), but we enjoyed what makes winter one of my favorite seasons to fish.  No crowds, clear water, and the flow is beginning to return to some sense of normalcy after the summer drought.  Just as we were winding down the day, I was reminded that risk sometimes results in reward.  I set the hook on what felt like a log, and as he worked his way out of a frigid deep hole, I saw gold in a world of white.

An awesome day with friends surrounded by beauty and abundance.  NCF is an excellent fishery year round.  Book a winter trip, grab some hand warmers and pray for snow, you won't regret it.

Photos from Matt Bornhorst and Kyle Vaughan.

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#optoutside

I thought the day would never come, but it seems pure insanity and people’s greed for material things have finally reached a boiling point.  I’m honestly shocked because I didn’t think it would be this soon.  For years I (and 75% of the WR crew) worked retail for a very reputable and big outdoor company.  Although they asked that I never stop exploring, they insisted I work longer and longer hours during the holiday season, particularly around “Black Friday”.  I remember when the first big box store’s starting opening a few hours early, then it was midnight, and next thing you know it’s the evening of Thanksgiving.  This year many stores will open Thanksgiving morning.  No company gave much thought of what this means for the workers who have to leave family behind to staff a store filled with crazed shopper willing to trample others and fight for cheap junk.  It's all about making as much money as possible.  It has become pretty sad and has made me very thankful to have left the madness of the retail world. Leave it to an outdoor company to not only value their employees, but recognize the importance of getting outside, and leaving behind the material world.  I’m seriously impressed with REI.  Although some REI shoppers may be upset, I really applaud REI for breaking the mold to do what's right.  Every year since leaving the retail world, I spend Black Friday outdoors and refuse to visit stores.  It reminds me of all I'm thankful for.  So glad REI employees can now do the same.  All of us here at WR love the outdoors, and companies who help support folks like us are worth mentioning.

Check out REI's #optoutside campaign and help spread the word.