Springtime crust skiing is one of my favorite ways to explore the neighborhood. Getting the timing correct is part of the fun. Too early and the hard frozen will not yield to the edge of the ski. Wait too long and the crust fails preventing the ski out or stranding the skier far from home.
Crust skiing is well worth the risks. The reward is moving at World Cup athlete speed and freedom from the confines of trails. Its also just plain fun.
Some of the trails in the network pass through fields discovered while crust skiing. Unfortunately, the trails altered the ability to ski randomly through the meadows and open acreage. Crust skiing is a way for me to extend the ski season when the touring centers have stopped grooming the trails.
Grooming this season has been a fantastic experience. Having ski trails twenty feet out the door has been decadent and well worth the efforts. The level of decadence is never more evident when I fire up the sled to groom out the trails enabling me to ski. Waiting for the trails to thaw so the ruts won’t grab skis is a thing of the past. I want to ski and I want to ski NOW.
On most days, grooming commences before the temps and sun rise enough to create soft snow. Most of the trails are shaded and skiing in a long sleeve shirt and without wind briefs is possible. The Tidd does a brilliant job reducing the Styrofoam crust to an inch thick layer of icy ball bearings. With the proper moisture level the super fast snowcone layer adheres to the hard snow beneath making a stable and trustworthy surface. The trails are ultra-fun to ski. Conditions have been so good the skiing would be fun if I covered the bases of the skis with pine tar. Who needs flouros; I have a groomer.
Another benefit to extending the ski season is exercising the dog. Mud season has started and running is just plain messy. A bit of skijoring with the kids helps wear out the dog. The highest perceived speed achieved on the trails this season was my 7 year old harnessed to the dog.
Besides the skiing, the fun has also been grooming the trails. A wise skier who grooms told me at the start of the ski season that grooming can become an end in itself. To a certain extent it has for me. Groomed trails have the look of a Japanese garden. I enjoy the aesthetics created by the contrast of groomed snow and the untouched surface along the edge.
The original plan was to stop grooming at the equinox. Most of the trails still have 12”-18” of packed base. The skiing is still fun and so is the grooming so the new plan is to keep at it until it is impractical to keep going.