Who’s Winter Walking? Jeanne Esch

Who’s Winter Walking? Jeanne Esch

As part of Winter Walk Wednesdays – a weekly celebration of people (big and small) walking to work, school or just for FUN! in Northern Michigan – we are highlighting several of our local Walk Champions.

Who Winter Walks In Northern Michigan is a story series that aims to create awareness for active, winter embracing, walk-tastic neighbors who walk more, winter more, connect more.

We see Jeanne Esch and her service dog, Luke, downtown all the time. We asked her to share her experience about getting around Traverse City during the winter.

Here’s her story:

Traverse City in the winter is beautiful, especially with snow. I enjoy being outdoors. I find the fresh air invigorating and a walk (or roll) near the water peaceful. I also need to be outdoors regardless of the weather. I also have a service dog who needs lots of exercise. Weather cannot stop us! The quiet of Traverse City in the snow is wonderful. The snow brings a special silence. I most enjoy taking the TART trail along the bay in winter. The summer busyness is gone. It is beautiful to watch the waves through the snow-covered trees.
I also enjoy going down 6th street in winter and the Central neighborhood in general. Here too, there is a lovely quiet in the winter.
Traverse City is also at its most challenging in the winter when there is snow. Wheelchair wheels get stuck in curb-cuts that are filled with snow. I’m often not able to take the sidewalks because I cannot access them via curb-cuts or there is too much snow on the sidewalks to allow a wheelchair to get through. I know the city is working on this. I believe as a city, we may have to be creative in finding solutions to such problems. (Anyone up to building a snowplow that attaches to the front of my wheelchair!)
I use the streets frequently in winter.  This makes friends nervous. Probably some drivers too. I’m sorry for that but it’s often the only way I can be out in winter weather to complete errands and walk my pup. I try to watch for cars and pull over so they can pass and not wonder which direction I’m going. To drivers, I thank you for your patience. Most people are very helpful and if my chair becomes stuck someone stops to help push it out. I’m very thankful for those people. For all people with challenges or with strollers – actually, for all people – it’s important that curb-cuts, bridges, and sidewalks are kept as shoveled as possible. After the plow goes through, I am most appreciative of those who take a shovel and clear a curb cut or remove a pile of snow left by the plows.
Making Traverse City walkable for all is a winter-long challenge. It’s worth the challenge to see the trees framing the Boardman River or the Bay after a fresh snowfall.
I’d ask everyone to try to make an extra effort to keep areas shoveled for those who need or want winter access to the city. It’s more difficult for others, those with canes and walkers than it is for me.