Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cross-country skiing -- snow day #3

New snow in the mountains, cold crisp day (19 degrees F with wind making it feel like about 9 degrees F) and a level trail (for the most part) made this the best ski day for me so far.  I only fell 3 times and since the snow was new it was soft consequently it did not hurt as much either.  I was so lucky; I had three men to help me—Bob, and two instructors.  They were all three very patient and helped me learn a few new things and practice things I had learned on the previous two outings like double poling, the wedge/snowplow, herringbone and sidestep, bending my knees properly, making new tracks in fresh snow, allowing gravity to help so I didn’t have to work so hard all the time, how to get up from a peculiar fall.  There is only one more outing that will be scheduled by the Mountaineers and I will be able to graduate from the class! 

We went to Gold Creek near the Hyak ski area just on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.  Snoqualmie is slightly lower in elevation than Steven’s Pass and has not had all the areas open due to lack of enough snow.  We took a hike here and this is what the lake looks like in the winter and what it looked like in late summer or early fall.  It is a very pretty spot.

Bob noticed that some people had gone out on the iced over lake.  That was extremely foolish as there was no way to tell how thick or solid the ice was and if it broke and a person fell in there would not be anybody around to help.

The new skis, boots, poles worked terrific.  The boots went on at home.  I have learned that my hands get too cold if I wait until I get to the site to put the boots on.  The boots are comfortable and keep my feet warm so it is no problem wearing them in the car on the drive up to the mountains.  It saves a lot of time once we get to the destination too.  The skis went on once we got up on the trail and it was flat.  Enough people had been skiing along this route that there were several tracks already made even though this particular area is not groomed for cross-country skiing.  There were lots of people on snowshoes too.  That can be a problem since snowshoes can walk just about anywhere but skis have to go in a track or make a track.  Some of the snowshoe people would clomp over the tracks and mess them up so it made a lot more work for the skiers.  Apparently there is an unwritten etiquette rule that snowshoes are supposed to stay out of ski tracks but most of these folks didn’t seem to know that.

Here we are just starting out.  The trail is a wide logging road at this point.  My first fall didn’t happen until we had been out on the trail for one hour and had to go down a slight hill where I lost control. 

 Some of the other group caught up with us and passed by. 

The Mountaineers class is very well organized and safety conscious.  There are two instructors and some backup people with each group.  The groups are small and in my case I was the only student with two official instructors and Bob as backup.  The aim is to help each student no matter what the skill level or age.  It worked well for me and I appreciated it very much. 

This is right at the lake edge.  There were no tracks here as the rest of the group had gone a different way.  Bob made tracks for me then took this picture.  Bob was taking photos all day so I could have this record of my progress.  My skis are sinking a little in the snow.  Actually this was okay as it meant I didn’t zoom down the small hills so fast and that gave me more confidence and helped me be able to stop and keep from panicking and falling.  Each of my instructors, including Bob, fell once so I didn’t feel too bad about falling only three times. 

We are doing what?  Going where?  We are going up the hill into the woods that is where and what.  With kind patient help and instructions I made it up the hill using the side step.  Digging the metal edges on my new skis into the snowy hillside really made a difference and kept me from slipping down.  We went through the trees (icy snow between the trees = fall) to an open spot with a view for a lunch break.

I am wearing so many layers of extra clothing that I look like a balloon and feel like Charlie Brown.  But the extra layers and the red scarf that hangs down under the jacket because it is so long, kept me toasty warm and comfortable all day.

This is the view from our lunch spot.  The creek is running free and not frozen.  It is making that “S” like curve in the snow.   The sky was clouding over, snow was predicted for that afternoon or evening so we decided to turn around to go back the way we came.  It was a little too late to go all the way around the lake and after lunch I was getting really tired.  At one place I exerted a lot of energy trying to get up a little hill that probably would not have been a problem earlier in the day but by this point I did not have much energy left.  I was told to stop and take frequent 30 second rests and drink a little water.  Also, Bob gave me chocolate—always good on a hike when I start to get really tired it worked well for a skiing day too. 

We started at 10:30 am and finished by about 2:45 pm.   The route we took was approximately 4K or 2.5 miles.  The longest cross-country skiing for me so far.   It was a lot of fun.  A very successful day.  One of my former teachers, D, saw me coming to the end point and ran up to give me a hug.  She had heard that I had gone down hills and up hills.  She said she had been thinking about me all day and worrying about how I was doing.  She was very pleased that I made it through.  So was I.  I loved being in the woods, the new deeper snow and even though I got tired at the end this was way more fun and I really felt like a skier.

On the way home I took this photo out the front window of the car.  It was really cold so even though the total snow level is low this year all the waterfalls have frozen into these pretty icicles.   There were dozens of these areas along the way but no place to stop and take a photo hence a quick shot through the window.

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