Saturday, March 6, 2010

Great Skiing Fun on the Hall Trail

My friend, Mary called Thursday asking me to drive over to New Hampshire for a ski Friday. I'm a snow snob, I admit it. If the snow isn't good, if rocks and sticks protrude through the snow, if pine needles and cones litter the skiing surface, if areas are wet or bare, if the base is too thin, I won't ski. I looked around at the bare ground surrounding me as I drove through Southern Maine and told her I didn't think I wanted to. She assured me, "there's good snow in the mountains!" She is a notorious liar, but a good friend, so I agreed to go.

I'm glad I did! There wasn't much snow and a lot of bare ground at the lodge in Jackson, but by driving up a side road and parking at a higher elevation, we were able to ski from the car onto the Hall Trail on about 2-3 feet of good fresh snow! Temperatures were warm and the sky was perfectly blue. The bright sun felt wonderful on our pale winter skin. What a great day for a ski!

I skied with Mary and Gail. In warm temperatures (this is for those of you who aren't classic Nordic skiers) you should use Klister. This is an extremely soft, messy, sticky wax that allows for grip to push off in the slippery, slushy, soft snow. No one likes Klister. It's very hard to remove from your skis once you put it on, it makes a big mess and somehow gets on your hands, clothes, inside your car, floors of your house, dog, hair...OK so maybe I'm exaggerating, but it is messy stuff. Each of the three of us took different approaches to avoiding the Klister issue. I brought it with me, but at the last minute decided to just use the softest hard wax i had and hope for the best. Mary used waxless skis with a modified grip zone. It was the most aggressive fish scale I'd ever seen! Gail didn't have even a smudge of grip wax on her classic skis and used glide wax from end to end. She was going to skate ski in them.

So we took off on the notoriously hilly Hall Trail over Popple Mountain, each with our own approach to the Spring conditions. Gail couldn't climb very well, but had us whipped on the flats. Mary could march right up even the steepest hills, but couldn't glide at all on the downs. It was funny to see her having to use the poles to propel herself down really steep slippery slopes. She said in defense of her modified ski idea, "they don't glide, but I could ski up Mt Washington in these things!" I could ski fine on shaded areas that had less melt, but had nothing on the exposed areas. So we all skied at our own rates, sometimes Mary ahead, sometimes Gail, and sometimes me, depending on the conditions. We usually all ski right together because we are well matched in ability. It made this outing a little different and more interesting. It was a lot of fun to keep passing each other along the way and saying things like, "You'll catch me on the next climb," or "See you next sunny stretch." We really had a blast!

All told we skied about 12 miles I think. It was great hard work and we were all sore and tired when we finished. That little bit of competitive spirited passing back and forth made us all work a little harder than usual. Let me tell you, I'm feeling it today!

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