Monday, January 30, 2012

The snow was found!

This weekend was the thirtieth something annual Intensive Training weekend near Lake Namekagan in northern Wisconsin. I've only been in on a dozen or so but have been coming to the area for those same thirty years that the event had been held. When my boys were young we would hit the same ski trails and many of the same drinking and dining establishments that we do now. The main lure for us, both then and now, was the Rock Lake trail complex across the road from the Lakewoods Resort.

The trails, 2k, 4k, 7.5k, 11.5k, and 16k concentric loops, are relatively unchanged over the years. They wind through mixed hardwoods and mature White Pine, and go up, over, and around glaciated hills at the terminal moraine of the last glacier that scoured the area. The trails are intimate, classical single track only, and are what I feel is the perfect cross country mix of 1/3 up, 1/3 down, and 1/3 flat. There are hills on the longer loops that are a bit hairy but they are all very do-able if a person does not lose their nerve on the way down. They are of course, much less intimidating once they have been ridden once successfully. The lack of snow in the city made us a bit conservative in the mileage department. It made me conservative anyway, because I peeled off on the 7.5k before Podman and KingIronwood caught us. RonO and the ManFromSnowyLegs were talked into the 16k and confessed that the sight of the parking lot was very welcome at the end. I felt energized and pumped to be on real snow without high school ski teams streaking by me, and wound up doing the 4k as well for a moderate total of 11.5k, just perfect for the first 'real' ski of the season.

When I was out with the boys back in the mid 80's, mileage was always a question mark. As you can see from the grainy image above, chances were pretty good that at such a young age the 16k would likely not be tackled. Nor was going uphill a painless process. Bribes of a French Canadian hard candy, which we called 'hill pills' were dished out, carrot on a stick fashion, when the hills were summited. Downhills, no matter how steep, never were an issue. It was generally just a good time in the out of doors. Campfires were lit, wiener sticks cut, and we enjoyed the moment. It always amazed me and still does when I hear guys say, "Man, my wife is out of town and I gotta watch the kids this weekend". Huh? You can't figure out something fun to do with your kids, just kick back and enjoy 'em? And what the hell are you 'watching'? In my compassionate, life affirming manner, I generally suggest that they get off their fat ass, use their head just a little bit, and figure out something that they all might enjoy. Our modus operandi was to go full bore with the fun and then about two hours before mom was due home, the fun would cease and frantic cleanup efforts would commence to erase the signs of the 'fun' that had left the house in complete shambles.

The Rock Lake loops bring back wonderful memories, both of when my guys were little as well as the many times the menly men of the Intensive Training weekend skied the trails and then rewarded themselves with a sauna, hot tub (five bucks at the nearby Lakewoods), adult libations, and a friendly card game. The trails are excellent for hiking in the summer and are designated single track mountain bike trails in the CAMBA system, but even though those are admirable activities, they simply can't be beaten as the nicest, narrowest, and most scenic classical cros country trails in the state.


Jeremiah Johnstone said...

The little boys are all grown up eh? TJ

Kate said...

Hey Dave--

The text on today's "Ranger Down" sounded oddly familiar. The photo & title seem unrelated.

They've been overlaid so that this week's title and photo run directly in to last week's story about the trip up to the Intensive Training. No text for "Ranger Down", no title for "The snow was found!".

I can only tell that they're intended to be separate by clicking around.