Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lake effect snow, quirky stuff it is

Yesterday I was bitchin' about not having skiable snow. Along the lakeshore, 12hrs can make a world of difference. I did not anticipate skiing today. When I awoke, there was about 6" of new snow outside. Just to the north got over a foot. Both local skiing options were claiming groomed skiing. Hmm, the place 30 minutes away got less snow and I wondered if it was enough. The place an hour away got a foot and I wondered if it was too much. Both places groom with snowmobiles. A foot of new powder packed by light weight snowmobiles didn't sound like much skating fun. I opted to check out the closer place first.

Snowing three inches per hour at Pigeon Creek

This was Pigeon Creek, a county park that charges nothing to ski the groomed trails. This is fairly common in the midwest actually. As I drove north not far inland from Lake Michigan, the snow depth increased dramatically. Seems some fingers of very intense lake effect had hit the area. Pigeon Creek's snowphone report said they received 4-6", but much more had fallen since earlier in the morning. It looked closer to a foot.

I was dismayed to see they hadn't groomed in some time. Locals rave how Pigeon Creek grooms throughout the day here. The powder was so deep that I couldn't see my skis gliding under it. The good thing was lake effect snow often has good moisture content. Glide was good, despite skiing in ankle deep mashed potatoes. And the snow was still coming down furiously. Brought back horrors from the Rangeley Lakes Loppet a couple years ago.

I did a couple full north and south perimeter loops and swung back by the car to get a drink after an hour. I did not need the weight of a full Camelbak in this mush. I just left the Camelbak on my car and I could skate right up to it.  In an hour, there was already 3" of new snow on my car. Three inches per hour. Not even a snow storm. Just a typical day in West Michigan. The deal was, they weren't coming back out with the roller. After a third perimeter loop, I gave up skiing the less traveled north side. It was just too much work. Couldn't even see my boots gliding through the stuff.

South loop at Pigeon Creek

Pigeon Creek is pretty flat. The biggest hill is 40ft. It has a nice plummet on the back side though. In about 1.5sec, you go over 20mph. It is the Nordic equivalent of the Log Roll at FOMBA.  I did the south loop with this hill seven times. Every time there were two kinds of skiers at this hill. Those at the top with trembling legs dreading going down, and those some portion of the way down digging snow out of their collars and eye sockets. I just tucked it each time. One time at the bottom some little kid said "Wow, that's the fastest one yet!"

Have to put mugshot up so Dave can choke on his Cheerios

I actually got a compliment of sorts from another skate skier. There were only a few of us there among the hords of classic skiers. I was V2ing about 95% of the time, feeling quite good in my balance. This other master skier assumed I had been skiing for many years. I learned to V2 only last season.  I was by far the fastest skier there, but that doesn't say much. Many families with kids. They "get it" at Pigeon Creek too, parents are really good about keeping their children to the side when faster skiers come by.

I skied 2.7hrs, covering only 37.8km. There was 4-5" of new snow on my car when I finished, and the snowmobile was just coming out to roll the trails. Wish I could've skied a few more laps on a packed surface, but I was wicked trashed.  Six hours of rigorous aerobic activity in two days was sweet. Pigeon Creek being close by, I hope to get in a few laps there again Monday morning. Then it's sledding with nephews and nieces in the afternoon.

1 comment:

Luke S said...

Not surprised you got snow in W. Michigan. It snowed probably 5 inches here in Ironwood today, which made for some interesting skiing. Oddly enough, I was in the vast minority of the "good" skiers here this morning while classic skiing. There is about 5 feet of snow on the ground here. And its still December.