Editor’s Note: Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle is on vacation. So this week we bring you this special outdoor report from Annapolitan Steve Adams.
I consider myself a Bay lover who doesn’t let the cold keep him from the great outdoors. In January I took part in both a First Day Hike and a day living like it was 1771. I’ve done plenty of polar plunging and snowshoeing.
While walking my dog recently in Annapolis, I saw a group of wetsuit-clad stand-up paddleboarders near the USNA seawall. Then I read an article about 85 members of the Annapolis Striders club running loop after loop of the 3.5-mile Greenbury Point trail—for six straight hours in driving rain and cold—in the 5th annual Eternal Winter 6-Hour Run. I even spotted dozens of sailboats racing on the Severn River.
It made me wonder: who are these people braving the elements to what they do in the dead of winter? I hunted down a handful of highly-active and, in some cases, downright hardcore, outdoor enthusiasts to find out.
On the Water
Of course, for many Bay lovers, getting on the water is a priority–-even in winter.
That’s certainly the case for Scott Williamson and more than 70 other sailors who join him in Severn Sailing Association’s Laser 10 Frostbite Series for 16 Sundays between November and March (provided there’s a good breeze and no gale warning).
Williamson, the series organizer, began racing Lasers when he was 15 and committed to the class in his 30s due to both practicality – the one-design boat is affordable and is handled solo – and the psychological benefits that Laser-racing provides.
“Sailing is a blessing,” says Williamson. “I can think of nothing more liberating than hiking your Laser flat and working the chop in a building breeze.”
Given this sentiment, it’s not too surprising that Williamson and his peers make sailing a year-round activity and, as he says, “aggressively encourage” others to join them. Williamson believes fall and winter are best for sailing, with more breeze, less heat, humidity, storms and powerboats.
To learn more about SSA and Laser Fleet 10, visit www.severnsailing.org. Or see them in action near the Bay Bridge this winter between 1:00pm and 3:30pm on Sundays through March 15.
On the Hunt
For those seeking quiet time in Maryland’s forests and fields without the cardio, hunting serves as a favorite winter pastime. Most hunting seasons (including deer, turkey, goose, duck, rabbit, quail, fox and raccoon) take place in the fall and winter and, in many cases, last just a few weeks, so putting up with the cold – maybe even enjoying it – is a mandatory part of the sport.
“You only have a certain amount of time to hunt during (deer) shotgun season,” says Kevin Martin, a 27-year-old Eastern Shore native who began hunting with his father at age seven. “So the more you go during that period the better chance you have at getting something. And even though sometimes you might not see anything at all after sitting in the stand for three hours and you can’t feel your feet, I really do enjoy it.”
For Martin, who usually hunts by himself on his father’s land in Queenstown or a friend’s land in Centreville, the hunt is more about the escape than the prey.
“I was brought up hunting, so it’s a family tradition,” says Martin, who also hunts goose and duck. “It’s always relaxing and peaceful being out in the woods—even if it’s raining or snowing the whole time.”
Hunting is also a crucial part of controlling animal populations throughout the state—and therefore something that the Department of Natural Resources counts on people like Martin doing regardless of the weather.
In the Air
Saving the most heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled activity for last, I learned about the joys of kiteboarding from, quite unexpectedly, my cardiologist.
Dr. Baran Kilical, a cardiologist at Anne Arundel Medical Center, was introduced to the sport 15 years ago and became “addicted to the adrenaline rush” after taking lessons in the Dominican Republic, has tried them all – and has quickly become a year-round Chesapeake Bay kiteboarder. His favorite locales include Beverly Triton Beach, Terrapin Park, and Matapeake Park.
“I love kiteboarding all year,” says Kilical. “While summer sessions are fun and very social, the winter makes for shorter but more intense sessions because your senses are heightened and you have smaller margin for error on the water.” (He wears a thick wetsuit or drysuit this time of year.)
To learn more about kiteboarding, Kilical suggests the local http://forum.eastkb.com.
These go-getters prove there are plenty of things to do around the Bay between the winter solstice and the first day of spring – and the date on the calendar doesn’t hold them down.