Sunday, January 23, 2011

Night Skiing

I have thought of skiing the Mt Catherin loop after lesson for weeks. On Sat the weather was great. It was a sunny day with good snow conditions. I finished up with a clinic and put all my gear in my car. I grabbed my head lamp and put it my coat. With my water bottle and one gel pack I was off for a workout. It was 4:20 when I left the parking lot.  I figured I would just go up to Windy pass. While skiing up toward Windy Pass I saw Phil. He said the groomer had just gone around the Mt Catherin loop and encouraged me to do it. That is all it took for me to make the commitment. While skiing toward the second switch back I saw what I though was a large dog. I figured there was someone else skiing. I did not see any ski tracks going uphill. The animal saw me. I minute latter a second animal comes along. They were a hundred yards in front of me.  I figured out they were coyotes. I am glad man is on top of the food chain. It was me, them and a lot of nothing else. I enjoy being out on my own traveling through the wilderness. Skiing out there in the silence watching the light fade is a special thing for me. There are track set in the snow for my skis to follow. I have been skiing for many years. I do not need to see to ski in conditions like this. What I can see is the trees on each side of me. I should say I can see the difference between the trees and the packed trail under me. My feet give me the feedback on what is happening under them as the trail angle changes. At Windy Pass and it is still light enough to see. The trail rolls up and down here. I get views of all the cars going home on I-90 from a day of skiing. In a half mile I start in to a long downhill. I am holding back on my speed as I cannot see the trail below my skis. I am feeling good and the world is sliding away under my feet. After a while the trail goes through the trees. I can see only the shadows of the trees beside me and the stars above me. I cannot see what is up and down. I figure it is time to put my headlamp on so I can see what is going on. There is one last climb to do. I had done this climb while helping with the run Cascade Crest. It brought back memories as I was working my way to the top.  Grand Junction is where the trails meet and I start the downhill run back to my car. I found it interesting skiing down Creek Run with my little headlamp. I should get a brighter head lamp. I picked up the fresh groomer track at the access road cut off. Skiing got a lot easier at that point. I was at my car two hours after I started. What a great loop that was. I loved all the silence, stars and everything nature gave me for those two hours on my own.

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