Saturday, January 14, 2012
We finally got some respectable snow in the mountains. Most years I can begin skate skiing on Thanksgiving weekend. This year we are running about six weeks late.
Snow almost up to the picnic table bench seats
Brett and I met up with Isaac St Martin and Dave Penney, who came up with spouses and child. There was a surprising amount of snow up in the valley. It was surprisingly cold too. It was 31F leaving the house early but only around 16F at WV with wind. Haven't had a chance to acclimate to that yet.
I had been on snow four times already this season, all machine made. None of the others had put skate skis to snow yet. For once, just maybe, I had a slight advantage. Even though there was maybe a foot of very dense, crusty snow on the ground in the woods, the trails were groomed only with the snowmobile. This meant very uneven, fiercely undulating surfaces that were soft in places. The Nordic Center has a new director. It will be interesting to see where he takes the place. WV charges more than any other Nordic Center in New England. You'd think for a full $19 trail fee, the trails could have been buffed out a bit more. Shouldn't complain though. Ski areas are no doubt hurting this season, and skiing natural snow in the mountains beats the heck out of Weston.
We warmed up on Livermore. The out and back up this gradual 400ft climb nets almost 10km. Then it was over to Tripoli. I had intentions on getting some serious intensity at some point during the ski, and the 800ft Tripoli climb seemed like a good place to start. It hadn't been groomed that morning and had another 2-3" of dry powder on top. The snow got drier and slower the higher we went. The climb went 20 minutes, a few minutes longer than typical. Brett and Isaac had no interest in hammering their first time on snow.
Brett cresting Tripoli Rd with Isaac a bit further back
We hit Upper Osceola next, a 400+ft climb with some seriously steep diggers in it. I didn't bury myself on this one like Tripoli, but at least threshold effort.
We looped around Moose Run next, a flat, normally crazy fast loop that is a blast to V2 around. Not today. The groomed snow, while mostly firm, followed the nap of the earth. It was virtually impossible to find a rhythm on it.
Back at the base of Livermore Rd, we scooped Dave up after skiing with his wife and son in the pulk. There was still a lot of moisture in the snow, and by now, the heavy traffic on Livermore packed things down pretty firmly. It was a lot faster than our first time up.
I led coming down Livermore. There were a lot of hikers on the trail, including loose dogs. Dave was skiing behind me. Bombing down one of the steeper parts towards the bottom, a group of five or six people had three loose dogs, including a bullmastiff. This thing was chest high. He spooked, ran in front of me, then suddenly stopped. I had nowhere to go. I skidded, and my skies actually went under the dog as he's trying to lunge sideways away from me. How I stayed up is beyond me. I was doubled over the dog like a bun around a hotdog. I've had to deal with loose dogs many times over the past three months. This one pissed me off. Signs clearly state dogs must be leashed and hikers must not walk on trails without snowshoes, both rules they were breaking. I screamed at the people "Dogs must be on a leash!" The guy said "We don't have a leash." Well, the maybe you should leave your f'n dog home. I didn't say it, but I sure felt like it. Dave was giggling behind me, seeing the whole episode unravel.
We skied 35km in about 2.4hrs with 2300ft of climbing. Great first day in the mountains on snow. I suspect conditions will be even better on Sunday after skiers pack things down and they re-groom. I'm tempted to go up again, but some time on dirt with the bike is needed.