After looking at the snow, checking the weather, vacillating, emailing, and whining a bit, four of us finally decided to head north and try to get in one last ski day on the Vasaloppet practice loops north of Mora, MN. I would have to say that we were all glad we did.
It was over 40F when we left at 8am Sunday morning and the water was already running in the streets. My scheme was to do a pursuit, that is a few kilometers on the skate skis and then switch to my no wax classicals as the crust melted and the snow turned to mashed potatoes. I became a bit more concerned as we neared the cabin and the sun peeked out from the overcast skies. The crust was still there however, with the cabin area being about 10F cooler than in the city. RonO and the IrishPirate arrived and, along with the VoiceOfReason and I, strapped on the skis and headed out on the Lantern Loppet trail, which happens to be exactly 4 steps from the cabin front door.
The trail was a bit of a mixed bag but eminently ski-able. Hard work and good grooming over the course of the winter left a base that won't be melting any time soon in the shade of the woods. Open fields with south exposure were another story. As you can see from the image, there were areas where the kick was excellent but the glide not so good. If you happen to be a cidiot (the affectionate name those up north have for certain citizens of the metro areas) and whine when there are too many oak leaves on the park board trails that might stick to your Atomic World Cup skis or a bare spot or two, this was not the day for you. We on the other hand, found the sunshine, 40F temps, great stretches of snow, birds and wildlife enjoying the spring weather, and good refreshments and company,to be postitively delightful. We even stopped at JeremiahJohnstones cabin for a celebratory slug of Bushmills that RonO just happend to have in his fanny pack. My grandma's dutch oven full of smothered pork was simmering on the woodstove back at the cabin and the Legend and GraciousPartier had rolled in. The Legend even installed a pay phone at the cabin in case any non cell phone owners got into trouble. It was a good day in the woods.
Ski season recap: New areas, including Phalen, Hickory Hills, and Tower Ridge were discovered....record time for the SKOAC Renegades in the Vasaloppet Relay, even after missing the City of Lakes, Book Across the Bay, and Intensive Training Weekend.....IrishPirate smokes Birkie course in 3:22......Bloody Mary's enjoyed at the JillLeah Loppet......and lots of good fun up on the Vasaloppet Practice Loops and the cabin. We hope that the GurneyGranny and Podman hang on to their snow in northern Wisconsin since that's on the agenda for next weekend. But even if we are forced to fall back on some hiking and happy hour on the deck, it will have been a successful cross country ski season for the second year in a row. Now bring on those long skinny boats.