Like a fish out of water, I floundered about, trying to find a position where I could leverage myself back into a standing position.
This laying on the back with skis criss-crossed was a new experience. And tiring. I hadn’t skied more than 100 feet and I was already panting like a hot, dry dog. How the heck do those Olympic athletes do this sport?
I consider myself a competent cross country skier. There’s not that much to it. Shuffle your feet, hopefully in a track, and use the long poles to support your efforts and to not let you slide backwards. Compared to real skiing, this should be easy, not as easy as stand-up paddle boarding, but easy.
Here in the Fraser Valley there are enough cross country ski trails to keep me and my dog, Chooch, busy for years. We haven’t even hit the official stuff yet. We haven’t been to the YMCA track. There are still Granby Ranches and Devil’s Thumbs to explore.
We’ve been slipping around on trails up by and in the Experimental Forest. We make our own trails and name them ourselves. Stuff like “Crazy Dog Tor,” “Gene’s Crossing” and “Aviary Roundabout.”
I’ve been led around other trails, mostly at night, by locals who seem to only come out at night. Earlier this winter I attended a full moon night ski party. The party was packed with night people, most of whom I’d never met. It was a cloudy night in Tabernash, which did not stop most folks from getting out there with flashing headlamps. Me and Chooch followed the lights and tried to stay on the trail.
And why are all you locals in such a hurry? I recently found myself fading into the darkness, falling behind my leader as snow fell in a thick, silencing blanket. Chooch has a little blue light on his collar so I followed him into the fluffy vortex. I think we were somewhere near “Deadhorse.”
Conditions are slick and icy out there right now, especially on the natural trails. There are special challenges associated with these conditions, mostly manifested by me making geeky moves and losing control. If you had seen me trying to close a gate with hard ice underfoot on Tuesday you may have called for an ambulance in anticipation of my wipeout. Shoosh!
Like I said – I usually scoot right along, breaking a sweat and moving forward with determination. I was rocking the Idlewild trail on Monday but got passed by someone making it all look very easy. He had long legs so maybe that helps.
This valley is paradise when it comes to cross country skiing. There’s the Fraser River Trail which follows the river and is groomed in some places. There’s Elk Meadow, Chainsaw, Grand Park, Monarch Lake, Blue Sky and the Flume Loop.
All the National Forest and town trails allow dogs, which is good news for Chooch. I make it a point to pick up after my Chooch but I’ve noticed that lots of folks don’t pick up after their otherwise perfect pets, which is unfortunate.
So, yes, I do think we should host the Olympics. Are you kidding me? There is more flat space around here than you’ll find in Kansas. There’s plenty of room for ice rinks, curling courts, halfpipes and biathlon trails. The rest of the area is dry as a bone, but we still get snow.
It’s worth noting that Martin Fourcade of France and Simon Schemp of Germany had the most exciting finish in this year’s games, both breaking the line in the 15 km biathlon at 35:47.3. No one cares that it took me almost that long on Monday to close the Red Gate.
We can build a village to house and feed the participants and then convert it to and preserve it as affordable housing and affordable retail space. The goal should be to preserve the fun, the funk and the funky people with no cars allowed in the new village.
The Winter Park Winter Games has a nice ring to it.
Reach Steve Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.