Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Fat Snow Fun

The move from Colorado was a hectic whirlwind.  We left a lot of stuff behind because it simply wouldn’t fit in the moving truck and because we hadn’t had time to deal with the leftovers.  But one thing I was insistent on bringing was our skis. 

One Christmas Mandy and I went to REI and bought each other skis of the cross country variety. We managed to use them less than a dozen times.  The first time we went out together that wasn’t in a city park was also the first time we got a baby sitter for both kids after moving to Colorado. We’d been in a new state almost a full year before we felt comfortable leaving them with a stranger for the day.

We visited Keystone Nordic, Eldora (my favorite ski center), Brainard Lake, and various urban parks around the metro area.  The problem for me was that we didn’t get to ski often enough to get very good at it.  I never built the strength or agility to have much control or skill to truly enjoy it.  When we left the state I made sure our ski gear was stashed in the truck despite the understanding that Kentucky winters didn’t lend themselves much to Nordic skiing. 

A steep learning curve...

How could you not love Eldora?

Approaching Brainard Lake with the Indian Peaks Wilderness as a backdrop

But I knew of a few people who had skied around the Red River Valley over the years.  The couple I worked for as a fledgling climbing guide had skied out Tunnel Ridge Road.  And Tomahawk’s friend Chuck had experience snowshoeing and skiing out of state, but had his own gear, so I imagined on the few occasions that there was enough snow in Kentucky to ski he probably got out in it.

2014 was a good winter for skiing on the Creek.  And last winter provided a few good days as well. Well, it was actually March when we got our good snow.  And then the river flooded while there was still significant accumulation on the ground.

While the Powell County Nordic Center doesn’t have quite the same experiences as say an Eldora or an Indian Peaks, it does have some pretty good opportunities for kicking around and having fun.
Bean’s birthday was Saturday.  She had been out skiing on Friday afternoon, but the snow was much deeper on Saturday, so she and I and Mandy headed out from the house and down the road.  Last year we figured out that the roads were the best place to ski and with the statewide and county states of emergency there were few cars on the roads making it even more perfect for getting out and having some Nordic fun.

Kaincaid Mountain, 2013

Enjoying the Powell County (Impromptu) Nordic Center

It was a short ski yesterday.  We went down the cul-de-sac across from us and back.  And then when Bean and mom went inside for some hot chocolate action I continued up Chainringville Road for a few photos before returning to a steamy beverage myself.
Last year I ventured all the way down the Creek to the main road.  It was a slog, but it was a nice adventure when the roads were absolutely to nasty to be driving on them.  The year before when we had the long cold spell late in the season we skied around up in the woods on the backyard trail and some old logging roads and I even ventured out on the ice of “The Pond.”  I still get flack for that, but it may have been the only time in my life that the small body of water behind my house was frozen enough to hold my weight.  And believe me, I wouldn’t have gone out on the ice if it hadn’t been.

I daydream about getting up in the Gorge for a snow event like these and skiing out some of the forest roads.  Right now they’re all gated due to the weather.  It would be perfect fatbiking or cross country skiing conditions.  I’ve got my eye on a Marin Pine Mountain 1 so maybe next year I’ll forget the skis and hit the trails on the plus bike. 

What I would really like to do some time is head out before such a snow event, set up a camp, and stay in the woods until a its possible to return home.  And skis or a plus bike would be the way to go.  I’m thinking the bike with a trailer would provide the best platform for an extended stay in the snowy woods. Heck, even a regular mountain bike would work in most of ideal places around here.  And I have a set of bike chains from my winter commuting days.
Anyway, I had hoped to get into some winter trouble and have fun haps to report back on today, but alas, we only managed the short ski jaunt in our own neighborhood, but it was pretty fun and was good tonic for the soul on a day when we couldn’t have gone much farther.  Where we live we got about a foot of snow over the two days.  We stayed warm and snug and ate lots of good warm food.  It's become apparent that as soon as this slush goes away it's time to start running again.

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