In Search of Snow

This has been the winter that wasn’t, which has made it tough for Nordic ski training and racing.

hot springs

We haven’t had enough snow to open any of our local ski areas except the man-made ones. I’ve been skiing around in circles at our 2.5k loop with hundreds of high school kids having meets and masters skiers training for races that may not happen. It’s so monotonous that sometimes I just have to pack up and leave. I can’t go on!, I exclaim to myself. That, unfortunately, does not make for having the kind of fitness required for racing, which will indeed become a painful reality when the Birkie arrives in a couple of weeks and I’m skate-skiing up the hills of northern Wisconsin.

I did experience real snow when I went downhill skiing in Montana in December, which is certainly a lot easier than the uphill skiing of cross-country. A good friend and I, after not skiing together for 35 years, took a “mancation” and left the families at home in search of a little adventure.

We skied hard for four days, closing the mountain each day after about 15 runs of nonstop fun. Our two best days were powder days, and we couldn’t get enough of gliding through the light stuff, run after run, sometimes with no one else on the slope. It was a far cry from the fake snow I’d left at home and would return to.

I had to enjoy the swirling white stuff while I could.

Bison

After the skiing part of our trip, we spent a couple of days exploring Yellowstone in winter — a tranquil time of year, without all the summer tourists. I’d never seen the park in winter before, and experiencing bison up close and a wolf pack eating an elk were highpoints. The bubbling, steaming hot springs at Mammoth were an eerily sublime part of the winter backdrop.

Snowy hill and pine trees

Now that I’m back to our snowless winter and once again skiing the “hamster loop,” as we racers call it, I’m indeed grateful that we at least have fake snow to ski on. Even though the loop is short and the k’s still get monotonous, skiing on man-made snow is better than no skiing at all.

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