Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The weekend ski report

The annual Intensive Training weekend found most of us wondering whether we would even be skiing because the trail conditions were so marginal.  The Birkie Tour was cancelled a week ago Saturday and the trails were pretty much skating rinks.  I guess all that it took was the ManFromSnowyLegs and I loading up the car and heading north for the snow to begin to fall.  We stopped at our favorite joint, the Trailways Inn south of Hayward, for supper and by the time we left driving had become exciting.  The rest of the gang rolled in and we headed for our favorite classical trail system, the Rock Lake loops, on Friday morning after an evening of beer, insults and loud complaints and accusations at the card table.

We were pretty sure that the US Forest Service would have not groomed the trails and we were spot on with that prediction.  There was about 6" of new snow on top of the ice however, and we had a wonderful day, even though we had to break trail.  The WoodFondlingBarrister is a man who favors, some say demands, perfectly set track and  even he had a good time in the woods.  These trails are narrow single track classical trails and the scenery is spectacular.  An area we call the White Pine Cathederal was breathtaking with it's towering canopy still snow covered from the night before. Classical style seems much more amenable to 'stopping and smelling the roses', and we stopped plenty to enjoy the brisk and snowy 12F day.  A little known post ski trick is to pay $5 and use the hot tub and pool facilities across the road at the Lakewoods resort; more on that later.

Saturday the group scattered.  The WFB absolutely required good track and lured the FamousCrimminalDefense attorney up to Mount Ashwabay with him.  Pod, the KingOfIronwoodIsland, and Spools headed back to Rock Lake to tackle the Holy Grail, the 16k loop, and the MFSL and I headed to the North End trails so we could skate and classical as well.  The snow was soft, I was soft, and my skis had wrong and not enough wax for cold temps with new snow.  The trail was 12k but under the conditions, including the 1,500 plus feet of vertical, it felt like about 30k.  The snow was soft but everything was covered, rolled, and the ice did not show through.  Even the actual Birkie and Kortie trails were nice, although soft.  We discovered that the Telemark lodge also had that same $5 health club deal.  We also noted that their sauna worked perfectly and that the Telemark hot tub had nordic skiers in it.  I'm going to throw out a generalization here but I've noticed that the average cross country skier generally appears a bit more fit and has a slightly different body type than the average snowmobiler.  I personally know exceptions but as a general rule.......Anyway, we had a lovely hot tub soak and nice conversation with some folks from Sparta, WI and some women from a Milwaukee ski club at Telemark on an annual ski trip.  In a controlled experiment we also discovered that while 4%ABV Bitter American froze in the car while we skied, that the 5.7% ABV Indeed Day Tripper stayed nicely liquid.  Ain't science wonderful?  Meanwhile back at Lakewoods the hot tub was a far different experience.  A group of couples, fresh off the snowmobile trails joined the boys for their soak.  From the Kings description, any one of them, male or female, could have easily blocked BJ Raji or Clay Matthews.  He also offered the opinion that they had been drinking for a fair period before entering the hot tub. Not quite as relaxing as our experience but variety can indeed be the spice of life.

We finished the weekend with the Washburn Pursuit: 5k skate at Mt Ashwabay, 5k classic at the same venue, and a pint of Widow Maker and a Patsy burger at the bar of the same name.  There is far more snow in Ashland, Washburn, and Bayfield (hint:if you take the first couple letters of each city you come up with.....Ashwabay!) than even 30 minutes south of there.  We did manage to get pulled over for speeding and, deja vu from the drive up, hit snow about halfway home.  35W had the 25-35mph crawl so we slid over to Old 61 where we could careen down the snow  covered roads at a more appropriate 50mph or so.

Even with marginal driving I have to say bring on the snow!  I think more will be needed before the Birkie and the 5" or so will help the Vasaloppet trail, which is scheduled in two weeks.  The Book Across the Bay is in three weeks and we can only hope that none of those crappy hot days or rain storms will screw up any of those races.  This was the first decent weekend of what we all hope will be many more this ski season.  That is, after all, why we live up here.

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