Winter in the mountains can have its harsh moments - snowfall measured in feet rather than inches, and sub-zero mornings. But a little known fact of life in the Sierra is that there is often more respite from the weather than there is actual weather. These spring-like days in the middle of winter bring about a condition known around here as Juneuary.
Remember this picture?
Today marked the third Saturday in a row that Gus and I walked up the hill, settled onto our favorite rock to look at the view, and I found myself happy and warm in a tank top. The sensation of sunshine on bare shoulders was so vivid, it was almost a tangible caress. The heat reflected off the surrounding snowpack was a blinding, bright oven, making 50 degrees feel like 70.
Ah, summer in winter.
These are the days we ski in our t-shirts. We take the canoe out on Donner Lake and have it all to ourselves - the water blissfully calm without the hordes of ski boats that summer brings. We sit out on the deck in the afternoon to split a beer or read a book. We take the dogs for long walks across expanses of sun drenched snow.
Another bonus of these weeks of warm weather is what they have done for my training. Normally mileage this time of year hovers in the 30-40 per week range. Not this January. With no forced "weather days," hitting the 50-60 range has not been an issue. Roads are clear, trails in Reno are dry, and even local, snowy trails are hard-packed enough for great morning runs with Yak-Traks. Yesterday's 10-miler on the trails of Peavine was mid-day perfection in shorts and a t-shirt.
I'm sharing my current appreciation for these beautiful mid-winter days because the forecast shows they're just about over. As January comes to a close, so too does Juneuary. Next week I'll be wearing hat and gloves again on my daily runs, and dreaming about the real beginning of spring. Dreaming about the real June of this year.