The Warriors of -35

The eventuality has come to pass – the cold snap has finally caught up with us.

After spending the winter to date enjoying generally mild temperatures, allowing even the most cold-averse of us to enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and pond hockey, we are facing the fact that -35 (without wind chill) has become our new reality.

These temperatures send many outdoor enthusiasts’ plans into a tailspin – Mount Sima closes, the cold air throws lungs into coughing spasms that deter all but the most stalwart cross-country skiers, and our cars don’t really want to start to drive us to the trailhead.

Even if they do start, we have to drive 20 km an hour slower than usual to avoid having our suspensions spontaneously combust from hitting a pothole or bump in the road.

It is at this point that many Yukoners choose to follow the lead of our furry friends and hibernate. They stock up on food and movies and decide to get well-acquainted with their sofas.

But what if you really would prefer to stay active, even if the ice fog has limited the visibility of your morning walk to three feet in front of your face?

Luckily, a number of your fellow Yukoners feel the same way and are willing to share their coping strategies for when the temperatures dip to the point that the inside of your front door starts growing hoar frost.

“The killer fitness classes, such as total body conditioning, at the Canada Games Centre keep me going … along with aquajogging at the pool,” explains Vicki Sahanatien, a PhD student in biology who is currently working in the territory.

“Try it, you’ll like it,” she adds. “It allows you to interval train in the pool and then take advantage of the sauna afterwards.”

Ashley Fisher, a Yukon College employee and roller derby rock star, agrees.

“The classes at the Canada Games Centre are fabulous – they fill the void I feel as I nurse big mugs of tea and stare longingly at my snowshoes waiting for the temperature to break.”

Others prefer to take their workouts to their living rooms. P90X, the 90-day home fitness program that is making news, was pointed to as a way to keep the temperature blues at bay for a number of Yukoners.

For those looking for a less serious option, Wii Fit is the activity of choice. Still others hop on their trainers and stationary bikes, dreaming of snowless roads and trails.

Others head for the heated ice options. Local raft guide Kevin Daffe swears by the curling rink to cope with the less-than-ideal temperatures. And the territory’s hockey players point out that it will take more than a dip in the thermometer to keep them from their games.

Bali Symenuk, who works with local mushers, points out that not everyone has the option of taking the coward’s approach to plunging temperatures.

“I’m working outside eight hours a day right now and I think I’m losing my mind,” she laughs. “It does make me feel like I’ve earned the chance to enjoy my livingroom in the evenings at least, though,” she adds.

Others epitomize the opposite end of the spectrum.

“My living room looks like I’ve been murdering muppets,” laughs Oliver Barker, a biologist with Yukon Environment.

He spends his frigid-weather days tying flies for fishing, waiting impatiently for temperatures to rise above his -35 cutoff for ice fishing.

“I admit that it’s not really active at all,” he says, “but it is contributing to being active in the future – so in my head it counts.”

Whatever you choose to do while you wait for the cold front to break, stay warm and have fun.

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].

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