At home in the snow

Muted under a blanket of fresh snow, the forests surrounding the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Western North Carolina stretch were quiet, white and cold Saturday morning, the sweeping path of the roadcut soft and unblemished as it wound thousands of feet above nearby Maggie Valley.

There’s a reason that 15 million people visit the Blue Ridge Parkway each year — but on this day, a snow day, none of them were there. In the snow, the views belong only to those willing to ski, snowshoe or hike their way up.

As it happens, cross-country skiing is one of the warmest exercises it’s possible to do. The temperature may have been south of 30 degrees, but my head and hands were bare and my coat open — as well as my eyes.

The warmth of my apartment had been a siren call as I left that morning, imploring me to stay where it was cozy and comfortable. But as I looked around to the snow-laden trees, the laces of shadow on the white ground and the glimpses of blue suddenly spreading across the sky, I knew I’d made the right choice.

— Holly Kays, outdoors editor

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