Staying active in the snow or on the water | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Staying active in the snow or on the water

Dan Thomas

Even before semi-retirement, Paul Jenkins never faced the daunting prospect of getting active again.

The 64-year-old communications engineer, now a consultant, has been snowmobiling since the 1970s and spent a good chunk of the ’80s on skis and snowshoes with El Dorado County Search and Rescue. The connections he made there, in turn, led him onto the water as a yachtsman. Jenkins also has been visiting the Sierra Athletic Club since it was called Lakeside Nautilus about 15 years ago.

“I do what I can to stay active besides eat and sleep,” Jenkins said with a hint of a joke.

He’s certainly not sitting still – nor is he sitting on a healthy routine. Club trainer Rhonda Beckham has helped him tweak his workout, emphasizing core strength and posture.

“I didn’t want to be Arnie (Schwarzenegger) – I just wanted to be fit,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins rarely skis downhill but still gets out on cross-country skis and snowshoes – maybe not as much as when he used them as tools for Search and Rescue.

His first exposure to snow machines came during the early ’70s. He had snowmobiles before joining Search and Rescue, and then he put them to use for the county. However, the snowmobiles of that era weren’t as capable as they are today: They needed access roads and relatively flat terrain, Jenkins said, and Search and Rescue used snowmachines to get injured people out of the backcountry. But other operations were on Nordic skis, snowshoes or on foot.

“The snowmobiles today will go to the top of the mountain and get the person if you need them to,” he said.

While Jenkins hasn’t upgraded to supermodern snowmachines, he’s still riding trails, climbing hills and sometimes high-marking. He counts about 20 days this year around Mammoth, Blue Lakes, Hope Valley, Emigrant Pass Road, Spooner Summit and Genoa Peak.

“You stop and smell the roses, not just doing 80 miles per hour right by it,” he said. “Not to put the people down who are going 80, but there’s stuff you miss when you’re going that fast, because your eyes are watering.”

It also was Search and Rescue that led Jenkins out on the water.

“It just seemed to come together on that basis,” he said. “A big part of it is, who you hang out with is what you’re going to do.”

Jenkins and the woman who would become his wife, Jean, both were waterskiers when they met. As they spent more time on the water, they progressed to bigger and bigger boats, and now they have a 26-foot cruiser and are active with the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club: Paul is commodore, and Jean is director of communications.

Jenkins also stays active with three grandkids in Reno and Vacaville.

If yachting – or snowmobiling, for that matter – doesn’t seem like as an intense a workout as slogging through the backcountry on snowshoes, Jenkins made the following point: All three get the mind off day-to-day stress such as work. Even gravity sports – skiing and snowboarding – get participants thinking about the next run instead of what’s going on off the hill.

“When a person is exercising, it’s stress relief,” he said.


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