Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Little Exploring

After four inches of sleety snow on January 29th, I went out to poke around the back mountain on the 30th. What made me think that four inches would have filled things in?

I'm still getting used to the strange landscape out there. I used to navigate by familiar trees, and the look of the land with the trees covering it. Now the contours lie bare. They look more varied and extreme without the trees.

Flowing water also complicates the skiing. There are more streams than before and they are all open.

On the old beater back-country skis I meandered along, looking for places I could slide along. It would have been quicker to take the skis off and walk directly, if I'd had a specific destination.

Working my way across the slope to my left, I crossed the biggest stream and poked around the clearings, climbing gradually. The snow barely covered the slash and debris from a couple of years of logging. I hardly recognized the terrain park when I first reached it. I should have brought the camera to record how much more jumbled and cluttered it looked.

Traversing further I looked down and back to see if I could put together a continuous descent line without running into a reef. I hopped into a few short snow patches that offered three or four turns, but nothing offered more than that. Then I hit a skidder trail that snaked up and down the slope in sinuous curves. It appeared to be completely filled in with snow, at least at my level and downward. Above, the curves hinted at how wonderful it might be with more snow.

Diving into this track I was able to link about ten turns and only had to jump once. It wasn't long, but it was good. Unfortunately, it took me to the top of the neighbors' clear cut. I could see their house down there. I was glad I had dressed entirely in black. I faded back into the sketchy cover of the leafless forest like any shy animal.

Winter isn't over yet. I can't say we're bound to get snow, but the odds favor it. When it comes I can tap into that sinuous line higher up and stay well above anyone's back yard.

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