Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cross Country Skiing, Take 1

Patty and I traded in our downhill ski gear for some nordic stuff this year. After many great years of alpine adventure, I've had to face the fact that my thrashed knees just aren't up to it anymore, and Patty's never really had more than a lukewarm interest. Winter's long and we felt we could use another activity that gets us outside, so we thought we'd give cross country a try. Today was our fist day out.

We bought starter ski-binding-boot-pole packages at Fitness Fanatics, along with a Sno-Park Permit that's good for the season. Grand total: $650 for 2 people. Holy hell. That's might buy you one very humble pair of downhill skis and bindings. So there's nothing not to like about the value aspect of this new-to-us sport.

As luck would have it, Patty's bro Scott, his wife Joan, and their sons Ian and Andrew were in town for the holiday weekend. They're Montanans and super-outdoorsey (Scott and Joan's honeymoon was a tandem tour), and we've enjoyed rafting, cycling, skiing and hiking with them over the years. They brought their gear to town with them and mother nature's been in a generous mood, so we were all excited to head up Mt Spokane this morning, where they showed us the ropes.

I've heard lots of buzz about how great the nordic trail network and facilities are at Mt Spokane. I know very little on the details of how it all works, but it's clear that it's driven by cooperation amongst volunteer organizations, public agencies and private companies. Like Spokane Nordic, Washington State Parks, and Inland Empire Paper. I'm sure the history and structure is a thousand times deeper than I know. But what I do know after today is that the trails and amenities are wonderful and just an hour's drive from our house. Here's a warming hut, that isn't yet fired up for the season. It'll be a fun stop when the wind is blowing and the stove is cranking out the heat.

Ian and Andrew were pretty much baptized in snow, I think. They're winter sport studs and know their way around all varieties of skiing and boarding. These days, Joan tells me, they don't board much because it's too limiting in terms of mobility. They like the freedom, adventure and challenge of backcountry skiing. For them, this was a pretty slow day and they were good sports. We love their youthful company. Here's a photo sequence of them rejoining us after getting way out in front and then circling back around. In cycling terms, it's the equivalent of someone blowing you totally off the back on a tough climb and then riding back down the hill so they can get in a little extra work while they wait on you. As your heart and lungs explode.

There's some breathtaking shit to look at up there, for sure.

Downhill is still the king of adrenaline, but nordic looks to have the potential for some wonderful explorey adventure, excercise, scenery, and active-socialness. Umm I mean activity-based-socialism. Wait, that's all wrong-sounding. I mean . . .

Oh hell. you know what I'm trying to say . . . good times hanging out with family and friends who like to get their heart rates up and feed their souls in the outdoors. I'm already so glad we've added it to our winter outdoor activity arsenal.


Mike Sirott said...

Glad to see you out in the snow Pat. Now that I know you're a skier, I'm going to bug you about the next possibility for an expidition. Three words: Bike-To-Ski. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!

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