The Gods have blessed us with good spring snow conditions this year. In March, they opened the skies to bestow a beautiful white blessing. All that white stuff becomes the water in our wells and rivers later this year. That blessing also means our trails are crowded, lodging and parking are hard to come by, and tempers can sometimes flare. Hey – where is your Do unto others as you would have others do unto you… spirit?
How much extra thought does it take to control your temper and have encouraging words or teaching words to offer in a not-so-good situation or even say nothing at all when nothing else seems appropriate? Whatever happened to old fashioned manners? Too often our kids learn poor manners from watching other family members or friends. “Just wanna be like you Dad…” rings true all too often. Please try to set a good example…
All forms of skiing, snowshoeing and other backcountry usage have common courtesies that are considered “rules” by some people. Cutting in lift lines is something that kids ski classes need to be able to do and the instructors do it courteously in ways that make you feel good to work with them. Cutting people off skiing downhill is dangerous and is never courteous. Awareness of your surroundings and the level of accomplishment of the people around you is particularly important in Alpine skiing. More accomplished skiers need to show more patience.
Nordic skiing has more options. People are more spread out on trails. When tracks exist on trails, learn the rules of the track. When coming fast down a track and encountering uphill skiers, it is not always easy to avoid them. Most of the time it is easier for the uphill skier to step out of the track and let the downhill skier pass. But this is not a hard and fast rule as the downhill skier may be very accomplished and can easily step out of the track while the uphill skier is struggling. The important issue is for experienced skiers to allow the struggling skier space and vice versa. Don’t be two or three across the trail blocking all those who want to pass. That is a recipe for trouble no matter what your experience. Hopefully that courtesy and patience can carry over into the Nordic Center or parking lot where people of all levels and ages are concentrated and often dogs are thrown into the mix. Make it a year-round behavior and not just for the trails.
When teaching kids, we teach that just being outdoors enjoying the sun and snow can be fun. We teach that they can do the needed skills themselves if shown how. Patience while they try to do things is paramount. Rewards (yes that often means candy or other foods!) work wonders because the kids are consuming energy and need to replace it. We teach that if we find candy wrappers on the trail, there will be no more candy rewards. Water to rehydrate is another important issue as well as clothing adjustments for heat and cold. We teach to move over to let other skiers pass. We look for animal tracks and other gems of nature that present themselves and what to do when wild animals are present. We teach the kids to help each other and often use other young people as helpers. All good lessons for adults as well.
Skiing at the Nordic Centers is coming to a close for this season. Grand Lake closed March 31, Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA plans to close April 4, and Devils Thumb is planning to close April 18 weather permitting. Please call ahead to check conditions. But crust skiing is here where warm sunny days and cold nights combine to make a crust layer on top of the snow that will actually support you and even your dog! You can ski anywhere but aim for mornings before the snow softens…Enjoy!