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How learning a sport at the Paws Up resort saved my life during the pandemic

Snowmobiling is one of the many winter sports at Paws Up.

The resort at Paws Up

Learning a new skill or sport while on vacation can improve the quality of your life. Sometimes it can be saved.

Right before the first news report from China of a r -idly spreading virus called COVID 19, I visited The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana.

This four day short break in January 2019 turned out to be an unexpected investment in my physical and mental health. January doesn’t sound like an obvious month for a trip to the Great American West, of course. Most of them dream of warm days, when they fly-fish in clear streams, hike through wildflowers and drink wine by a fireplace under the summer stars until late at night.

But winter has its charms. At Paws Up, you can dog sled, ride a horse, and snowmobile up a fluffy ridge of stoic pine trees to peer out at the silent world below. Wood-burning fireplaces warm hands and toes at night.

Snowshoeing at the Resort at Paws Up

Lauren Mowery

I learned snowshoeing at Paws Up.

I loved the idea of ​​floating on fresh powder. I never had a chance to attend before Montana. The snow in Manhattan turns to rust colored mud after a day.

In the leisure center, I was provided with shoes, sticks, hat, gloves and pants. Unfortunately, I arrived in Montana not prepared to run around in the open air. I thought I was going to drink wine. All about chimneys.

But the lodge had everything I needed for the day. This is how they take care of the guests.

We piled up to our starting point in a 4×4. Instructions showed me how to use the sticks. I plopped around like a fish out of the water until I finally got hold of the awkward movements. We hiked over a wooden bridge through several meters of fresh snow to a rocky promontory. It was breathtaking. And I was out of breath. Snowshoeing is a real workout.

I flew back to New York at the end of January, recharged from the trip. A few days later, I went on a month-long trip through Australia, California, and Las Vegas. Over 20 flights later, I returned to New York aware of the impending pandemic and its effects. Australia had already reported several cases of COVID in its largest cities.

In March 2019 we launched our West Village  -artment. We sold it in two weeks. The day after the contract was signed, the Manhattan real estate market closed indefinitely, along with life in the city as we have known it for 15 years.

Winter in the Catskills: Temperatures around 20 degrees and several meters of snow for months.

Lauren Mowery

We moved to a remote cabin in the Catskills Mountains that was mainly used for weekend work and writing. The hut stood for six acres. Perfect for the  -ocalypse. Or so it seemed until the short days and long months of darkness and isolation set in.

The following winter, the rate of infection in America rose to its highest level. Vaccines were declared effective but may not be available for months.

I had been imprisoned for almost a year working remotely with my husband. Our dog died. We had no kids, family, or friends to lean on in the remote rural community. The gym was closed. I had developed plantar fasciitis all day while baking bread on the cement floor of our kitchen. I couldn’t walk the way I normally would to exercise.

As a travel writer locked up with no travel writing or human interaction, I panicked. Then the storms came, one after the other, keeping us both tr -ped in three feet of snow like The Shining for weeks. In the bleak time after the January 2020 holidays, I had an emotional breakdown and suggested to my husband that I might consider contacting an online ther -ist. Virtual advice, of course, because COVID.

Dog rests after pulling a sled at Paws Up.

Lauren Mowery

One afternoon when I was killing time, I was flipping through photos from my trip to Montana the previous year. The black and white shots showed the cute huskies from a dog sled ride in the afternoon; Mountain panorama and ghost towns from a day on the snowmobile; and photos of the bridge crossed on snowshoes.

The memories led to a rethink. The smallest change in mood. I had to do something. I had to get out. I imagined afternoons drifting through the magical winter forests of our backyard.

It took a few days to find shoes.  -parently all of America had the same idea.

Finally a pair of pink and white Redfeathers arrived. The next day sticks and gaiters.

I took her for a spin off the deck in our back yard. A forest filled with towering ash, thick white pine and fine m -le separated our property from the neighbors.

Snowshoeing through the woods behind our house in the Catskills.

Lauren Mowery

For the next two months, I would spend every afternoon with my husband exploring the woods or following the trails made by deer. They always knew the best routes around buried rocks and hidden overhangs. I trudged past frozen waterfalls and old stone walls built by peasant hands. Watched the sunset over glittering drifts. Returned to my own warm stove.

A faint optimism spread, supported by the endorphins of the training. And I couldn’t break any pandemic news in nature.

In  -ril I finally got the first dose of Moderna. The second shot weeks later freed me – us – from snow-covered c -tivity.

Snowshoeing saved my mental health, my physical health, maybe my life. A profound result of an easy vacation thanks to learning a sport at Paws Up in Montana.

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