The recent cold weather and fluffy attempts at snowfalls have been very welcome to many of us. Indian summer is wonderful for a while, but there are limits! Last week I hiked six miles with three spring chickens; I felt like an old hen by the end, and for the next three days. Our modern snowshoes had sharp, built-in crampons, useful on the thin concrete-like snow. As internal combustion machines could not yet drive the trail, we were able to relax, breathe the pure air and soak up the peace and quiet. This was the "Oregon" trail from Route 8 to "North Bend" on Stewart Brook. The major flattening caused by the 1995 blowdown is still interesting to see, and a couple miles in there are many magnificent white pines. This week, with the same young people, I walked in to Round Pond from its east side using Yaktrax and two ski poles. It was a short, easy trail and a perfect day to explore a wild and pristine lake. Again we enjoyed the fact that we were safe from machine noise, smell and speed intruding on the spectacular scenery. The myriad of animals leaving their tracks in the untrodden trail included mink and bobcat. Later my energetic friends skied across Garnet Lake and walked into Lizard Pond while I sensibly went home, before I felt like a lame duck. The Adirondack winter economy depends on snow and cold. Freezing rain or interminable Novembers just don't cut it. So what is in the cards for us? This is the third year in a row with pathetic snow. Some people are still saying "natural cycle." I don't know about you, but when I need plumbing done, I get a plumber. When I'm sick I go to a doctor (sometimes). And when I want to know what's going on with the weather, I look to people who have spent their lives learning how weather works, collecting data for studies, and having the studies critiqued and duplicated by other climatologists. Scientists now have created computer models that include the known ingredients of climate. They run the models backwards to see if they fit the historic data, then run them forward to try to predict what will happen in the future. When there is a consensus among credible scientists, I accept their opinions even though I can't understand all the math and jargon. If you still need convincing that humans are influencing climate and don't mind separating political overtones from the science, you might watch the 2006 version of An Inconvenient Truth, which includes an update of data from 2005. The film is surprisingly amusing at times, and the hope is to inspire us to turn down the heat, get a home energy audit, use compact fluorescent bulbs and Energy Star appliances, and buy small, gas sipping cars. And also stop driving so much (I tell myself!). A detailed overview of up-to-date information on greenhouse gases can be had if you type in Wikipedia global warming. (This is a free encyclopedia that is basically written by readers, though vetted by experts in their areas of knowledge.) The article includes the "contrarian" views and responds to them. Another internet search--try greenhouse gas personal calculator. (And if you find the perfect one, let me know!)

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