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Outdoors/Adventure

Rain, snow, sleet — bring it on. Wind? Not so much.

  • Author: Alli Harvey
    | Alaska Outdoors
  • Updated: January 4
  • Published January 4

The saying goes: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. For the most part I agree. Negative temps? No problem. Rain? It's not my favorite, but I can hang.

Then there's wind. For me, there's no greater disincentive for getting outside.

"But Alli. You moved to Palmer, Alaska, which is known for gale-force winds fresh off glaciers, convening in gusts to scrape snow off entire fields and depositing glacial silt on windowsills across the Valley. Why did you move there if you hate wind so much?"

Fair question. I have no regrets about where we live, but I am learning to cope with more frequent winds. Here are some of the things I'm finding.

Stay low

I have an expert way of reading the wind without ever leaving my home. When the trees are wobbling sideways, and the corinthian-bells wind chime we received as a housewarming gift is clanging like a soothing but persistent alarm, it is probably windy out.

And if it's windy down low where I live, hiking up high to where there are fewer trees likely won't improve the situation.

So one option is simply to stay low. If I'm not hiking or running, I'll usually hop on my bike.

Unfortunately, my worst experiences dealing with wind have been on my bike. With a tailwind, I've convinced myself I'm a superstar athlete. But headwinds make me feel like an invisible force is holding me back as I desperately try to pedal forward. It's kind of funny, in a cosmic-practical-joke kind of a way. But if I can, I avoid biking in the wind. It makes sense that the faster I'm going, the worse the wind feels.

That leaves walking. I layer everything on. I will borrow a friend's dog who doesn't care that it's windy. I plug in my headphones and listen to a podcast, stuff my hands in my pockets and scowl like a grouchy city dweller. Then I go for a walk, leaning into the wind. This is the downside to being addicted to fresh air every day. I need to get mine.

Point to point

Another option, if I can plan a little and solicit the help of a friend, is to figure out which way the wind is blowing and walk or run from point to point. That way I can keep the wind for the most part at my back and get a ride back to where I started. Yes, this is the coward's way out — but I have no shame in it. Such is my relationship with the dreaded wind.

Psychologically, this is easier than knowing the wind at my back will at some point translate to gusts in my face. It helps get me out the door. And it's better for me to get outside at all, even if I'm cheating.

Get stronger inside

There are some weeks that the wind can seem relentless. The longer it's windy outside, the more I have to carefully plan my excursions to make sure I'm not going stir crazy.

But if it's just an isolated day here and there, I can get away with working out indoors. I tell myself I'm making myself stronger for when I go outside again.

There are countless indoor programs and apps that, even for someone like me without a gym membership, can be done pretty much anywhere. People reportedly do this thing called "yoga," although that's too close to stretching for my taste, so I avoid it. Body-weight exercises such as pushups and squats start to add up to strength over time.

Then there's always the one-day drop in to the gym or swimming pool. Both mix up the routine, and I suppose for that I have the wind to thank.

Baiting

When all else fails, I treat myself like a reluctant child. I tell myself that if I go outside into the terrible, awful, no-good wind I can do or have something I really want afterward. Maybe it's a movie. A hot bath with my book. I try to avoid baiting myself with cookies because, although that works, Christmas just happened and I'm finally breaking the habit of sweets for all three meals.

There are very few outdoor foes in my world, but wind is one. I brace myself for it, grit my teeth through it and try to tell myself that windy days make the calmer ones feel even better.

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.

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