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Archive for December, 2014

New season and trying to find enthusiasm

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The early snow was a blessing and a curse. In mid November we had single digit F temps. Weather more akin to mid January then right after Halloween. The woodpile took quite a hit so it was back to the woods to drop a few more trees. It is not uncommon to burn wood having been bucked up and in the fire with a shorter time frame then fish caught in the neighbor’s pond and set onto the grill.

This past summer there were many trees falling across the trails. Several of these blowdowns deposited large Pick-up Stick piles of bent, broken, and intertwined trees. One “pile” had red maple, sugar maple, poplar, hemlock, linden and a pine tree in the mix. The piles often contain hanging limbs and other widow makers which add a bit of excitement and the real potential to get pile driven when something dislodges. The bent trees also store a lot of energy. In short, clearing piles is dangerous and time consuming. At least we had firewood.

The first of several Pick-up Stick piles to be cleared

The first of several Pick-up Stick piles to be cleared

Some creative ropework to help safely separate the trees.

Some creative ropework to help safely separate the trees.

Down in the trails for cleanup. Best part is no bloodshed or broken bones. There were a few busted ropes, chains, and bent saw blades but throwing money at these solves the problem.

Down in the trails for cleanup. Best part is no bloodshed or broken bones. There were a few busted ropes, chains, and bent saw blades.

Ski racers are made in the summer. So are ski trails. This past summer my enthusiasm for performing routine maintenance and blogging about it was pretty low. Truthfully, it was dead. Two big things contributed to my apathy. First, my point and shoot camera was broken. My belief is this blog post pretty much sucks without photos. The 99% contributing factor was finishing school and not finding well paying employment.

The sled I have been using for the past 4 seasons is not made to work. Last season my tolerance for using this sled was ground to a minimum. It doesn’t steer very well even with dollies and acrobatics; it is geared way too high so belts get destroyed; the narrow track lacks traction and constantly digging the sled out of the trails was more shoveling then grooming (shoveling is a big part but to create good skiing, I was extricating); I need to pull lightweight implements when a heavier piece will make better skiing. The list is long.

My hope was school would be a repaint of this old jalopy enabling me to find employment allowing the acquisition of a tracked 4-wheeler and the cash to stop patching equipment and build what I want with better quality stuff. There are other more domestic hopes too but this is a ski blog not so much a therapy session.

Don’t let my whining make you believe I don’t enjoy, strike that, absolutely love grooming trails. As more and more of the community use them and offer up property to add trails (with a better grooming rig we could have almost 30k!) and send emails asking if the trails are in skiable shape, my desire to do a good job just grows. People are getting exercise, driving less, and meeting the neighbors. This is a fantastic model of sustainability and I’d like to help it grow. Not being able to deliver the best skiing in Vermont actually pisses me off quite a bit. When a significant portion of my grooming time is repairing and patching and wrestling with equipment some of the enthusiasm is worn away.

After the cold snap we received about 10 inches of snow. the single stem blowdown, exposed roots, found rocks, and large branches had not been cleared from the trails. The sled was taken out of mothballs and used to drag a roller while I removed the trees and detritus from the trails. This little taste of zero BS and high productivity while grooming was a shot in the arm reigniting the ember for trail prep almost extinguished by my apathy and self pity. Skiing minimally groomed trails prior to Thanksgiving on natural snow. How cool is that? Nothing short of awesome.

The huge snow dump forecast for last night (12/9) didn’t materialize and we have light rain over snow. Normally, grooming this would create ice and junk skiing. As it is early December this crud will be rolled and packed hoping temps remain cold and the stuff sets up into a solid base.

Until I grab another point-and-shoot camera (my phone is an old flip thing without a camera and most likely about to become retro cool it is so old) the posts will have a lack of visuals suckish quality but I’ll make them anyway. I won’t keep up with the prolific contributions of Jessie and Reese. The blog will return to enthusiastic and hopefully amusing posts.

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