Skied Again

Some people don’t consider Cross Country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, to be skiing. That’s OK with me. I’ve seen guys strap skins on their down hill skis, climb up a mountain, take off the skins and ski down, and I mean a big mountain. That was 30+ years ago and now the two sports have moved closer together. I know that from the skis I just bought. Like downhill skis, they are “cut in” on the sides and they are comparatively short. They are different, as I’m learning from taking them out, twice now. I can tell from the few little knolls I’ve skied down that they would really like more hills than my golf course offers, but I had to tell them, “Guys, listen. I don’t really remember how to turn.”

“Sure you do,” they said, “just keep at it.”

They’re probably right.

Maybe what I should worry about is having conversations with my skis.

I had the golf-course to myself. Someone was there this morning — the skater guy, I think, from the tracks. In the meantime — night before last — we had a sweet fluff of light snow. It was followed by a warm temps (40 F/4C) yesterday and a bitter wind, bitter enough to make slanted icicles as the day cooled and the melted snow on the roof-lines froze.

I knew this morning I wanted to get out there, but I waited to see what was going to happen with the temperature. If it got to freezing — or a little above, I would go. I knew there would be a crust of ice under drifts, and in shady spots, it was kind of icy, but, overall, I’ve skied on much worse.

I fell — that’s the best thing that happened. I found out that I can get up from a fall and how I would do it. There are a couple of positions I’m not supposed to get myself into, and one of them could be the result of getting up from a fall. It was wonderful to know I can get up.

It was a dazzling blue-sky day. Not many animal tracks and no sign of “my” deer, so I didn’t feel so guilty about having walked the dogs at the high school before going out to “our” place.

Deep Snow

The snow is deep here in Heaven and it’s GREAT. I didn’t buy skis, my new snow shoes have shark’s teeth on the bottom and they scare me. But we remain undaunted and yesterday we headed out to the golf course to smell things and look for tracks.

The San Juan Nordic Club has groomed beautiful trails and, as it was Sunday, people were using them. It was wonderful to see — and it made me envious. Anyone who was outside yesterday really WANTS to be outside. Dusty made two new friends — a friendly neighbor opened his arms and let Dusty run to him, and one of the skiers — a really amazing ski-skater — stopped and asked if he could meet my dogs. They were all about it.

The tracks for cross-country skiing are really nice — there is a wide one for the skaters, lines for the people like me who just glide, and then a packed part to the right of all this for walkers. In snow over a foot deep it’s nice to have something a little more solid under foot. I love that they do that. It’s kind and respectful and protects their ski tracks from the kinds of postholes idiots like me drop into the snow with every step.

So far this winter I have fallen three times and gotten up three times, twice in deep snow. That was one of my biggest fears thinking of winter sports. Every time it was nothing. “I fell, so what,” not even that much thought or dread went through my mind. When you think of being mobile, you don’t think of falling, but it’s part of the equation. Anyone who moves around risks being attacked unaware by inanimate objects that are out to get them. It’s vital to be able to recover from a fall without fear. Just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again. Yesterday we walked a mile and a half through this deep snow. It was hard work, but fun. Dusty was suffering by bedtime, though.

But I’m getting skis. This is insane.

P.S. The photo is from three days ago. We’ve had more snow since then. 🙂

Resolution and Wonder

I always thought the Buddha was kind of precious saying, “desire creates suffering” but damn. He was right. After four days of very frigid weather, today the temperature warmed up to the 20s (-3C), and Bear and I finally got to take a long snowy walk. What a walk!

My desire for more money and X-country skis and (yeah, maybe, this, too, YOUTH), all that had made me unhappy, vanished in what I saw and learned.

Walking in 8 inches of snow isn’t easy, but it’s fun. We headed across the golf course out to the big empty. Wildlife don’t know the difference between the two, so, besides the snow (which Bear and I love) there were all these smells, “ordurves”, urine sprays, scent markings on the bottom of trees, and TRACKS. Humans have ONE gift on the hunt and that’s height. Bear has, for a dog, very good vision, but I’m taller. Still she gets to experience a lot of things I don’t. I think I’m glad.

And then I saw “my” deer. The two does, running across the empty alfalfa field. They stopped when they saw me. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something running, more like floating, on the snow. I knew who that was. It was “my” fox. I haven’t seen him in two years. HE was why my deer were running.

My fox a couple years ago in the snow and mist


The does leapt over the fence. The fox ran in another direction, not liking seeing me and Bear. You never know with that guy. Sometimes he’s curious, sometimes he’s not. The deer stopped running and walked a few yards toward me. We looked at each other. I let them know I was very happy to see them again (did they understand?). I wondered where the buck, the other doe and the yearling were, but I couldn’t ask. After we acknowledged each other, they went into the willows to browse.

On my way back I saw two x-country skiers trying out the newly groomed trails. One was a really good skate-skier. The other was a guy struggling. It’s a sport you have be pretty stoical to enjoy when you’re just starting out. You have to like the possibilities because it’s a little awkward to learn. I hated it the first time I tried it in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. It was hell. But, a few years later at Devil’s Thumb Ranch near Winter Park, I took lessons and it turned out to be one of three sports I’ve tried in which I had a natural ability. It’s so nice to get a break like that.

I waved at they skier. He came over to say “Hi,” and I asked him if he were having a good time. He just said, “Well, it’s a nice day.” Colorado speak for, “Hell no.”

I just smiled and said, “Keep enjoying yourself.”

“Oh yeah,” he said and struggled off.

Unlike him, I was having a good time, and it occurred to me that I’d rather walk through the snow with Bear than X-country ski. I thought of all the places we could walk in the back country, and I realized that my new winter sport is…

1/10 the cost of X-country skis and MORE versatile for going into the snow with my big white dog. I don’t need new boots. I have poles and it’s something I’ve never really done. An adventure.

The Most Amazing Photo (of Dogs I Love)

All the Dogs that Look Like Lily T. Wolf ❤

From “Here’s Where the Arctic’s Wildlife Will Make Its Last Stand,” National Geographic, January 2018 PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL NICKLEN

Lily T. Wolf in her first and only REAL snow storm, March 2015


Walking in the snow with a dog who loves snow is a kind of transcendental thing, particularly if you love snow, too. Only a couple times in the lives of my Siberian huskies was I able to share that with them, and Lily was the ONLY one who got to experience real nordic cold and a legit snowstorm. Otherwise, if it snowed in the mountains where I lived in California, a rare event but it happened, we were OUT in it as soon as it was possible.

Now I don’t have a Siberian husky, but I have Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog. She and I took our first REAL winter walk of the year this afternoon. It was a balmy 17 F (- 8 C). We took off across the golf course (who’s surprised?) and out into the big empty.

I didn’t expect to see the deer. They really are gone. One of the property owners north of the golf course is now shooting at geese and if I were one of my deer (highly intelligent deer, by the way) I wouldn’t hang around. On our return, the scent in the air was a mixture of gunpowder and piñon. Bear did not like the smell, but the sound of the shots didn’t seem to bother her.

I’d forgotten the exquisite pleasure of walking in the cold on a still, sunny day with the best companion I could ever ask for. It was really perfect.

Bear and me looking toward the place where “our” deer should be, Bear leaning against my legs to keep me safe from danger. ❤

The Bear Report

Snow is in the forecast but here in Heaven, between two rain shadows, it’s always iffy. We will be VERY happy if it arrives because then my dog’s camouflage will work.

Meanwhile she’s waiting patiently. Long walks help combat the yearning.

“The deer are over there, Martha.”

And toys…

Bear in the morning with her new toy.
In the evening after a long walk, with her new toy.

We had a long walk yesterday with lots of amazing smells mostly of the two dogs and their people who were out in the wildlife refuge when we arrived. Bear walked in every patch of snow that still remained from whenever that was a long time ago that snow fell. The one big patch under the cottonwood trees gave her a place to roll around.

That’s pretty much the Bear report for this part of the world. I imagine later on today we’ll go try to find what little bits of it still remain in cold north hollows and maybe see how our deer are faring.

First Snow — Report

 

Knowing perfectly well that March or April could arrive and I could, by then, be thoroughly sick of this stuff (doubtful but possible) here are some photos of our first snow of the winter. Last year we had ONE good snow storm on October 9 and that was it. Drought, no snow pack in the mountains, bad news for both of the “industries” in my valley — farming and tourism.

This year the local ski area, Wolf Creek, was the first in Colorado to open on weekends — two weeks ago with a foot of snow. Since then they’ve had (now) two more storms so it has to be pretty decent up there.

As for my big white dog and I? I was so excited at the prospect of snow I could hardly sleep. Lucky for Bear, she had no idea — or every idea through her nose that it was happening. It was wonderful to wake up to the miracle of a world transformed and quieted by snow.

 

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Not a lot of danger on the golf course today…but something smells good.

 

We were out by 8:00 to catch the snow before the day warmed up, and the snow stopped falling.

I love the feeling of cold air on my face and the vision of trees covered in hoarfrost and snow. I knew it would fade fast, and I didn’t want to miss it.

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Some of the trees still have leaves. I guess they just aren’t ready to move on. Snow on still golden branches of aspen trees is very lovely.

 

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Snow on Narrow-leafed Cottonwood

 

After about an hour, we came home and shoveled the sidewalk. The snow was like concrete at that point as the temperature had reached 32 (0 C). I shoveled my walk and my nextdoor neighbor’s because they’re out of town. There was no real need. I knew it was going to melt before night, but I like to shovel. My neighbor came across the street and helped me finish up and we visited for a while.

Bear and I just got back from the second walk. She checked her messages and then we went back to the golf course to see if we could find any tracks. Elk, I think, much to Bear’s delight, and pee on the side of a cottonwood.

There’s a lot of drama in my world during the hours from dusk to daylight, but I don’t interfere with it. I like seeing animls, but I think, even more, I like it when animals are free from me looking at them. I love the accidental meetings, though, during what I call “human” hours. We’re both surprised at the sight of each other. No sightings today.

My dog is tired, I’m tired, but we’re both very, very happy. We’ve waited a long time for this and it’s absolutely wonderful to be able to walk through the deep snow without even thinking about it. I’m looking forward to the coming months and maybe the chance to Cross-country Ski.

Halloween Snow

There were a lot of years when I was a kid when it snowed on Halloween. It’s kind of a tradition. Bear’s happy. I’m happy. I’m about to put on my boots and take Bear for a ramble and then come home and shovel walks. I know there’s a chance (slight) that by March I’ll be sick of snow, but right now, I’m very happy. The world is costumed in moisture and white silence. The happy snowplow came by (comforting sound and sight) and all is right with the world.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/rdp-wednesday-costume/

Conversation with PBYT.Dog

“Martha?”
“Yes, Bear.”
“When will it snow?”
“About the time you have my yard completely dug up, I think.”
“What?”
“I meant to say no one knows.”
“Last year we’d already had a blizzard.”
“I know, but it was the only real snow we had. I think that sucks.”
“We went out in it.”
“Of course we did because we’re idiots like that.”
“I love snow.”
“I love it too, Bear. It will come, sooner or later, but we live between two mountain ranges. They catch most of the storms. It’s just how it is.”
“Why don’t we move?”

~~~

PBYT.Dog = Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/rdp-thursday-blizzard/

Olden Days

I just saw this trailer for a film coming out this fall, and I want to see it.

I learned to ski on the “back” side of Pikes Peak. When I left Colorado in the mid-eighties, there were copious ski areas. The morning ski report was long. When I look at a ski area map now, it’s not like that. It shows the “mega” resorts that remain.

These ski areas weren’t resorts at all, many of them. They were places you could go in a day. Pikes Peak Ski Area was right off the Pikes Peak Highway — easy access. It was small, some rope tows, a poma and a chair lift. The snow was usually pretty good because it was on the north side of Pikes Peak — it was high, shaded and fairly well sheltered from the wind.

skipikespeak_cam

Pikes Peak Ski Area

These ski areas often didn’t have many runs or amenities — no fancy hotel to spend the night, no shopping, food was often burgers cooked on the mountain on oil-drum grills and eaten standing up, but with season passes that cost $25 for a family, they made the sport accessible. The focus was on skiing.

Back then, too, there was a little reverse snobbery. Real Coloradans didn’t wear fancy ski clothes because skiing was part of who they were, an every day thing, nothing to get dressed up for. Fancy ski clothes revealed that the skier was from Chicago — or worse — Texas. For a while it was popular to ski in bibbed overalls. I didn’t; but I did ski in jeans. When I started X-country skiing, I wore those clothes to the down hill ski areas because there was political contention over “skinny skiers” using downhill slopes. I had to make my point, right?

Andy and Me, A-Basin, 1982

A friend and I at Arapaho Basin, 1982. I’m wearing knickers, high wool socks and layers.

Some of the small ski areas have grown up — Arapaho Basin back in the day was smallish and funky, but now it’s expanded and appears to be more closly linked to its neighbor, Keystone. I can’t say for sure; I haven’t been back.

Right now the local ski area — Wolf Creek — is the center of a big fight between conservationists and a rich Texan who wants to develop it into a resort. A ski resort would pretty much destroy the vibe that Wolf Creek wants to maintain and that the people here are comitted to. It’s a tense and murky situation since the economy of Southern Colorado is depressed and a ski resort would help, but, at the same time, it would put “our” ski area out of the reach of most people who actually live here.

I like the idea of small, local ski mountains, but economically, I can see they stopped being viable. Climate change has made the snowfall less dependable than it was when I was a young woman. Maybe there’s no connection between thousands more people driving into the mountains every weekend from Denver to Vail, Aspen, etc. than there were thirty years ago and the fact that we have less snow. No idea.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/rdp-monday-copious/

“You’re Going to Ski???!?”

image_540507666909509

 

See the blue skis with the word “Wax” on them? I bought them today for $30. They’re nearly 40 years old. I owned a pair just like them in a faraway land known as Denver. I skied on them a lot AND (here’s the madness) I took them with me to the People’s Republic of China. Yeah. OK that “might” not be totally insane (I think it is), but I was living on the Tropic of Cancer.

After a year in the tropics, the skis came back to Denver in time for one of the snowiest winters in history, a winter so snowy that Colfax Avenue, one of the biggest main streets in America, was carved into two lanes with a wall of snow between them. There were days when X-country skis were the one sure way to get around town. The mayor at the time — Peña — was taking flack from everyone over his apparent inability to get the snow plows out.

The skis moved with me to California where they had some pretty decent adventures. Once was with a bunch of colleagues. Everything California was alien and the 18 inches that had landed in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego gave me a chance to be myself. Back then I was “Ms. Ski Wax America,” and I was very proud of my back-country skis. My colleagues had skis but waxless, fish-scale, skis (like the prettier, narrower, slightly newer ones in the photo). I could have taken my fish scale skis (simpler) but I brought my back-country skis because I loved them, partly, and partly for the overall coolness effect.

One of my colleagues, a very overweight know-it-all type with fish-scale skis that were too short for his weight, borrowed some wax from me — red wax. First you don’t wax fish-scale skis. Second, red wax wouldn’t make his skis faster; it’s sticky; it’s good for climbing hills. When he was “ready,” he pointed his skis down the steep hill and didn’t move at all. Those skis had been conditioned to HOLD ON to the mountain. That was fun to watch, and he was a good sport about it. I helped him clean off his skis and things went a little better for him; not much, though. His weight pushed the fish scales down so hard they were gripping the snow. We went up and down a decent hill and then came home.

On those skis, I skied around the back side of Cuyamaca Peak where I saw cougar tracks for the first time. They skied up Mt. Palomar and back down again. It was really something to see the great, white telescope domes in the snow. As we skied down the unplowed road (a lot easier than it had been skiing five miles up the manzanita plagued trail) we passed a family who’d come up to “see the snow” a California family with a beach umbrella, beach chairs, a cooler. As we whooped our way down, a kid called out, “Hey mom! That’s what we should do!”

They skied up the PCT to the Garnet Peak Trail (no way to ski up the Garnet Peak Trail itself), accepting the constant challenge of close hedges of manzanita scrub on both sides.

And then… Life changed and the skis went to the Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to lunch with friends then — as an adventure — we visited the flea market, and I saw these skis in the back room. My heart skipped several beats. Of course they’re not “my” skis, but they are my skis. Without thinking I reached for them and cradled them against my shoulder like old friends. My friend Elizabeth looked at me with so much compassion, “Are you going to ski, Martha?” she asked.

I told them I once had skis just like them, and put them back against the wall. Of course I’ve thought about them for the past two weeks. Today, I went to look at them. Thirty bucks. I put them together and carried them to the cash register. The couple that mans one of the shops in the flea market looked at me and said, “You’re going to SKI?” The couple is around my age, I guess. And of course I limp and often use a cane.

I explained I used to have a pair of skis just like them. And I said, “Yep. I’m going to ski. Maybe not this year, but, yeah.”

“Watch out for avalanches,” said the wife.

“Yeah, well, I think it’ll just be the golf course.” I really have no illusions about this.

“The golf course?” she looked at me bewildered.

“Yeah,” I said. “When there’s enough snow they groom it for cross country skiing. It’s beautiful. And I live right beside it.”

“It’s good exercise,” she said. I nodded. It’s more than that, but that’s fine. It is. “You need poles.”

“I have poles at home.”

“Good luck!” they both called out as I left the store.

“Thanks,” I said, “and thanks for the moral support.”

“We hope you do it,” said the husband, a former alcoholic whose life story I became familiar with on my second visit there. My little heart glowed.

“I’ll let you know.”

You can see in the featured photo that one of them (the bottom one) is pretty badly delaminated; the other one only slightly at the tip. That made me relate to them even more. I’m delaminated. When I got home, and had looked them over good, seeing that it didn’t seem hopeless, I called the local ski store. I told them I’d bought a pair of old cross-country skis that were somewhat delaminated, and asked if they could repair them. I’ll have to take them in; maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, the skis are here and I’m glad.

I also did a little research yesterday when I was so down about things. This is what I learned in a professional paper about skiing after total hip replacement. It made me a lot more hopeful about everything.

“2 groups of 50 patients each, matched for age, weight, height, gender and type of implant, were clinically and radiographically examined after THR (total hip replacement). Group A regularly carried out alpine skiing and/or cross-country skiing, while group B did no winter sports. At 5 years, no signs of loosening were found in group A, whereas 5/60 implants in group B had signs of loosening, mostly of the femoral component (p < 0.05). At 10 years, 30 patients remained in group A and 27 in group B. No new cases of loosening were found in group B, but 2/30 cases in group A. There was a higher (p < 0.05) average wear rate in group A (2.1 mm) than in group B (1.5 mm). The wear rate was particularly high (3-4 mm) in physically very active patients in group A with localized osteolysis at the interface. It seems likely that in an even longer follow-up, the number of cases of aseptic loosening would be greater in group A than group B. Our findings, combined with the results of previously-published biomechanical studies, do not provide any evidence that controlled alpine and/ or cross-country skiing has a negative effect on the acetabular or femoral component of hip replacements. The results of the biomechanical studies indicate, however, that it is advantageous to avoid short-radius turns on steep slopes or moguls.”
PMID: 10919294 DOI: 10.1080/000164700317411825 

Since I’ve never done short-radius turns on steep slopes or skied moguls, this is good news.

There’s also the question, “What’s the point of life?” I’ve actually figured out the answer.

The point of life is to have a good time.