Saturday, December 22, 2007

Epic Conditions

Waterville Valley Skate Ski
44.8km, 996m vert, 3:11hrs
Fast Wax Blue, -9C to start

Conditions at Waterville today were about as good as they get. Glide was on the slow side, but several early season snow storms have blanketed the area with generous cover. 100% of the tThe Sandwich Rangerail system was open, I think this is 2nd time in 5yrs I've been skiing this has happened at WV. And it's not even Christmas yet.

Not having recovered much this week, my legs were a little "off" starting out. Heading out Swan's Way, I hit the Livermore Rd climb first. This by itself gains abut 400ft at gentle grade. But to my bewilderment, it was not groomed from the North End parking lot. I took a new connector trail in hopes I could connect with the North End trail system. This trail did wrap around to Livermore Rd. The Nordic Center is getting clever. It seems over the last several years too many thrifty Nordic skiers learned that Waterville cannot charge Beginning Cascade Descenttrail fees for use of Livermore Rd. It is a national forest access road. WV has rights to groom it, but not charge fees for use of it. So now the first half kilometer plus or so is not groomed, and you have to use a fee trail to connect to it. Kind of like a toll booth with no sneaker path around. Of course, you could hike the half km to groomed road and stay just on that I suppose, but I bet that is enough to thwart most of the slackers. So now I lost one of my benchmark time-trail climbs, the length of Livermore Rd to junction 75. I have Tripoli Rd to keep me entertained instead.

I climbed Livermore to Cascade Brook Trail, a steep, additional 400ft climb with switch-backed descent. I bombed down Livermore with what felt like perfect V2/V2a control. The conditions were very forgiving of weak technique. High point of Cascade Brook is about 900ft net gain from Nordic Village.

Alpine area across the valley which is about 600ft belowTripoli was my next climb. The snow might have been groomed at a different time. It was much slower. Firm, but just no glide. I was surprised to see no skate or classic skiers had been up yet, and it was nearly noon. Second time in as many visits I got to lay first tracks up Tripoli. Coming down, I ran into team mate Rich in exactly the same spot I ran into him two weeks ago. He was just starting out and I was working my way back.

I wanted to climb the new Swazeytown Trail to Snow's Peak, but could not find way to connect to it from North End. I climbed Livermore again, continuing this time all the way up Upper Snow's Trail. View from peak was surreal, being not that far under the cloud deck. I took the Beanbender plummet down to new Swazeytown trail. Swazeytown descends a lot like Cascade Brook Top of Beanbender Plummetdoes. Narrow and lots of tight turns. It puts a big grin and your face while you grip the poles with white knuckles. I finished up by doing the northern most segment of Criterion Trail. I forgot how steeply this climbed from the golf course.

For you endorphin junkies out there, XC skiing produces incredible releases. Towards the end of my ski, I was so absorbed in my inner world I forgot what trail I was skiing on and did not know where I was going to pop out. During a period of youthful indiscretions, I had to pay good money to bring about that state of mind.
It's off to Michigan for a week over the holiday break. Conditions are looking grim for local XC skiing, but the northern lower peninsula has some good skiing currently. The warm spell could kill it, but more snow is in the forecast. I pre-shipped my studded-tire MTB there, so either way I'll be getting workouts in. Last year, the trail riding was phenomenal over the Christmas break.

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