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Archive for November, 2011

Back to Mud Season

Monday, November 28th, 2011

It was fun while it lasted. Most of the pre-Thanksgiving snow has melted to an un-skiable depth. Temperatures came up into the low 50F range during the day and just dipped below the freezing mark at night stretching out the skiability of the trails. I managed to get out four times on the home trails and skied one day at a brand new ski area, The Strafford Touring Center, in the nearby town of Strafford, VT.

The early snow cancelled the Center’s Turkey Trot running race scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving. Jeremiah Linehan, one of the center’s principals and former US Nordic combined team members, decided to host a 5k ski/snowshoe fun race instead. The race was planned as a community centered event intended to introduce the center to residence of the Upper Valley. Jere was hoping to attract 20 participants. Temps in the mid 30s and bright sun blessed the event. Based upon the size of the crowd at the start line and by doing a bit of race number math, my best guess is over 50 people participated in the ski race. Some people had never skied before and came out anyway. Patrick, the rep from Solomon, was mounting and prepping the rental fleet and sending the new gear out as soon as it was ready. It was awesome to see the enthusiasm from everyone involved racing, watching and running the event.

Skiing at an area besides my own trails gave rise to a few realizations. Having trails right out the door is nice albeit a bit solitary. Grooming and skiing the same trails has made them excessively familiar and heading out on unfamiliar trails was fantastic. I’m lucky and maybe a bit spoiled. The kids had fun getting away from the house too. Part of the idea of having trails at home is making activity part of the family’s lifestyles. Ski, snowshoe, running, whatever; just get outside and do something each day. This winter we’ll make an effort to get away a bit more to help keep the skiing part fresh. It’d be a downer to think giving the kids the easy opportunity to ski actually makes it boring and they want to stop such a wonderful lifetime activity.

The melting snow gives me another chance to complete, or at least get started on, the unfinished trail work. There is bucked up firewood to remove, a few wet spots to drain, a small bridge and a roller to build. Second chances are worthless of we don’t take advantage of being given them. The early snow and skiing a few k went a long way in helping me trade the mud season doldrums for a new found enthusiasm for the upcoming ski and grooming season.

The forecast predicts sun and the same pattern of temperature swings we’ve experienced for the past week.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Last night 8″ of perfect fort building snow fell onto Post Mills. Since the last post describing all of the work to be finished not much has been accomplished. Rather then becoming all despondent about my lack of productivity on the trails my energy was put into firing up the sled and getting the implements ready to groom. A bit of firewood can be tossed into a pile for pickup at a later date.

After removing the mouse nest from the sled’s airbox and finding more mouse litter scattered around the engine compartment the oil was checked, fuel turned on, the key and kill switch turned to the run position it was time to yank the cord and see if sitting all summer had any detrimental effect on the sled.

A few shots of ether placed directly into the cylinders did the trick. The engine fired filling the storage space with dense gray 2-stroke exhaust. With the sled moving I kept after it hoping the engine would continue to run. It did so I took a lap of the trails on the property with the intent of checking the snow for depth in the trees and to decide if grooming was the next order of business.

Arriving back at the shed, the eye of the roller was slipped into the hitch and the 2011/2012 ski season was underway. The initial plan was to roll in the trails and go for a classic ski. Fired by enthusiasm, the project bleed crept from the property trails to the field across the street and down the road to the neighbor’s. The roller worked well enough but I wanted more. The Tidd replaced the roller and the next hour was spent packing snow into 12’wide skate lanes separated by bits of standing water. The summer’s rainfall has groundwater levels pretty high. The trails have more standing water this year, at this time of year than I can remember.

starting it

With the wax bench leaning against a corner a pair of kitchen chairs was pressed into service supporting the skis while a thick coating of storage wax was quickly and incompletely scraped off and falling to the floor.

With the wide trails we decided to skate. Turns out, the skiing was pretty good. A bit soft and wet and besides the occasional water crossing, the coverage was fantastic. Tempos are forecast to drop tonight so the plan is to awaken and run the leveling drag over the trails assuming the snow hardens off. If it remains soft the drag becomes a plow, digs in degrading the trail surface.

nate jay liv

The grooming was an impulse decision. Knowing daytime temps will be in the 40s for the next few days my hope for skiable snow to last is pretty low. Night time temps are forecast to be in the mid teens and the justification for early grooming is pure speculation on my part. If the air is pressed out of the snow its insulative qualities will be reduced allowing the cold to penetrate the ground freezing it deeper than areas covered by unpacked snow.

Standing water

This season I’ve also decided to track the cash spent on fuel and other “needs” of grooming, gallons of gasoline, hours spent grooming, hours spent skiing on the trails by me, and total snowfall. This might prove to be depressing but I think its a worthwhile bit of information. What to do with the data in still unknown but it might prove useful to someone. Starting today we’re at 3.2 gallons of gas, $12.24, 1.5 hours on the sled and 45 minutes of skiing.

Enjoy the holiday and today’s grooming will make for a Happy Thanksgiving.