Monday, March 30, 2009

Looking Forward to Next Year

I'm in no hurry, but when next ski season finally gets here I look forward to exploring the great trail improvements that went in at Wolfeboro Cross-Country while I was working out of town for the past nine winters.

Wolfeboro Cross Country works hard to maintain a fun, family-oriented trail network with something for everybody. Much of their 30 kilometer system is well-suited to the beginner and intermediate skier, but provides an easy route for someone trying to develop more skills. Unlike some areas that only offer windswept open fields or one basic valley-floor option for skiers who don't want to tackle long, steep climbs and possibly gripping descents, the Wolfeboro facility has a little bit of everything, and easy access to a quaint town with multiple options for lodging, dining and grocery shopping.

Wolfeboro is also conveniently close to the Seacoast and the central and southern regions of New Hampshire, not to mention Maine and Massachusetts. It is located between the corridors of Route 16 and Interstate 93, which makes it handy to get to, but not hectic and overbuilt like a tired roadside attraction. It's a place to unwind and re-energize without taking a long trip from home.

Tired of big, corporate ski areas that don't take care of cross-country skiers? Tired of elitist, race-oriented Nordic areas that only use the tourist and day skier as a source of cash to support their competitive egos? Come to Wolfeboro and just have fun.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Last Day

Today the trails closed at Jackson Ski Touring for the 2008-'09 season. I will no longer qualify for or need the season pass badge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shutting it down

As the snow retreats to the higher elevations and the broken bikes call from the south, it's time to button up the seasonal outpost at Jackson Ski Touring for the last time.

Unless Saturday morning dishes up unexpectedly delightful conditions my last outing on Jackson trails will have been a grind in sticky snow on skating skis. The next-to-last outing, however, was another matter. Caught the good frozen stuff for the dead opposite of sticky on a nice blast out the Ellis. I got lucky on a couple of those before the weather tilted more firmly toward the thaw.

Break it down, pack it up, put it behind you. Don't look back at it for few months, or maybe ever. Watch the spaces, not the trees. All images and impressions must be suspect except for the pure honesty of the skiing itself.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Speaking of Yellow Klister

After two days of great skating I needed a change of pace. George was just coming slowly back from his bout with the Jack Plague. That meant both of us went out on klistered classic skis on Sunday.

George launched earlier in the day, as the temperature crossed from the upper 20s to the mid 30s. He used Swix Silver Universal and some KR40 Violet klister to meet the granular early snow changing to the first moist patches where the strong sun worked on it.

By the time I went out, the temperature in the open was leaping past 40. Out on the Ellis, shaded areas might easily remain dry and firm. To meet that possibility I mixed some of the Silver Uni with KR70 Swamp klister. They don't call it swamp klister, they call it "Aqua."

George returned all smiles. His wax had worked well for his convalescent outing.

I had an excellent time on the Swamp 'n' Silver. In the growing slushy areas, nothing would glide extremely well. Other than that, though, the kick was bomb-proof, so I could propel a strong glide. Untrustworthy kick actually makes you slower. As usually happens, I steadily overtook everyone on the trail in front of me just with careful technique. No one's going to make a video of me, but I get around. It's fun to build the trip one stride at a time.

With good kick you have a solid launching pad for each glide.

Back at the shop, I didn't want to de-klister my skis when the forecast indicates I might want exactly that wax job again. To keep the skis safely away from anything that might get snared by the klister, I put some grid-wall hooks all the way up on grids on either side of one of the backshop windows. George and I laid our skis on this rack, safely above any clutter or traffic.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nordic Tar and Feathers

When cross-country skiers run someone out of town, they cover them with yellow klister and beech leaves and carry them out on a pair of beat-up old touring skis.

Couldn't Resist

Customized this Fischer banner during a quiet moment the other day.

More Great Backshop Work from Elsewhere

These skis came in for waxing. No mention of the hack job someone did installing the bindings. This is the sort of thing that happens with NNN's pointlessly adjustable steering plate. Because the shop grunt drilled wrong and did not have the wit to re-drill, he had to glue the rear section down with Gorilla Glue and hope it stays long enough for the customer to go far, far away and forget where he bought them.

The skis had no stickers, but they had ski straps with the logo of a shop called Skinny Skis, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The customers brought two pairs for waxing, one with Salomon Pilot step-in bindings. Both sets had matching ski straps. But they could have gotten the skis themselves from anywhere and bought the straps as a souvenir on a trip to Jackson Hole.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Days You Wait For

Slipped away this afternoon, spanning mid-day, really, to wander up the back mountain and rip a few runs through the logging cuts and glades.

It's not as secluded as it used to be. People who had a cabin up and to the right are building a castle now. It's completely off-grid and supposedly still just for seasonal and occasional use, but it's huge and not as high up the mountain. The original cabin sat in a hollow near a stream. This monster sits on a ridge. It's screened by trees, more or less, but that just makes it easier to stumble on. I don't know how workers are getting there with all this snow, but I hear them every time I go out. Today was no exception.

I'd stayed to my right going up, in the cover of woods beside a recent cut. This took me near the top of some hemlock glades I hadn't visited in a while. That's when I heard the radio and realized I'd strayed close to the Tyvek cliff. The house blends in amazingly well. Suddenly you notice not only that it's there, but that it's gigantic. I cut left and dropped into a nice line. Once I had the curve of the hill between me and the building I angled up and left.

Playing the contours I traversed toward a drainage with more conifer glades. I didn't plan to reach it, but got there before I knew it. Rather than get drawn into the longer runs (and longer climbs back out) I turned back toward Lower Bobcat Rocks, where we'd seen some scat at the end of last winter. The sun hit the pinkish granite alluringly. It looked like a good place to bask.

The slope, the spaces and the snow encouraged long, angling runs back toward the rocks. The rocks themselves didn't offer a place to perch. No matter. I would drop a little through the trees, stop and look around, drop a little further. The sky turned a high-altitude navy blue through my polarized sunglasses if I tilted my head just right.

The older cuts are growing up in saplings now. In a narrow stance I could cut through at a steady speed. Any attempt to turn harder or stop short would have ended in a foolish heap. The snow was sticky in the sun, too. Once you get moving in snow like that you want to keep moving. So after every halt to enjoy the peace and sunshine I had to kick start the next section.

You do your time the rest of the winter to get to March. I do my time on the groomies to be in shape for the better getaways to places untracked. This was just a taste, but high grade. Sunny days in March are the brightest we see all year, with light from above and below. Premium stuff.

OMG, what?

The truth always turns out to be just one notch weirder than anything you could make up.

Jackson Ski Touring!