Sunday, December 20, 2009

Skiing in Powdery Paradise

High temps (at FAI): -22 to -13F
Low temps (at FAI): -36 to -24F
Mileage: 17
Well this weekend things didn't go quite as planned. Ah, the joys of picking a weekend ahead of time when you're not working and then letting nature do its thing. I reserved the Colorado Creek cabin a couple weeks ago which DNR owns off of Chena Hot Springs Road (not to be confused with the awesomer one in the White Mountains) for this weekend with intentions of riding into the cabin, riding a 24 mile loop on the Compeau trail the next day, and riding back out on Sunday, to put a 36 mile training weekend in. But then, the snow gods snowed down upon Central Alaska for several days and made all the people happy and they became satisfied with their early Christmas gift. True this statement is, but I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that my biking weekend would not be so logical. That was the only reason I picked this particular cabin. Up until about two hours before we left for this trip, I was still debating whether to "practice" pushing my bike, or to put my pride in a corner for the weekend and enjoy a logical ski in fresh powder, breaking trail. So last minute I decided on skis.. the decision was made more easily since I do not own the correct bags for packing my bike at this point. Another cost, another piece of gear I don't have. Have I mentioned lately how I'd like a real paying job? No? Why did I decide to go to grad school again? Oh yeah... to get back up to Alaska easily. I still think back to one of my coworkers at the end of my first summer in AK saying, "oh, you'll be back" when I said I was going to go somewhere else the next year, with this almost defiant tone in her voice. I wish someone would tell me what I'm going to do next even if I don't agree. :-)
Anyway, Celine, Patrick and I played hooky on Friday and started out to the cabin on Friday afternoon during the light to take in the view. The trail was glorious breaking through. I am a big fan of breaking trail even though it's slow. It's just fun to make the first tracks, pretending that you were the first ones here.. even though many have gone before you!
The slog in took awhile.. longer than I'm willing to tell you. I have only gone on one "leisurely" ski this winter so far until now. Every other ski has been to work and back with a purpose. Nothing more than 3 miles R/T, since skiing has been making my knee swell up a little bit. Add that onto a breaking trail on fresh 4 to 5 inches of snow, and cold temperatures, and I promise that you could run it faster. What I realized this weekend is that this winter is beginning to blend into my memories of last winter. I've just been feeling ready to overcome any obstacle or take on any length of adventure, as if it's a continuation of last year. Maybe that's why people gain endurance into their thirties and get to their peak typically then. Not that I'm anywhere near 30 at this point, but it's nice to know that in 5-10 years maybe I could be one of those people who I look up to now. It's fascinating how sucked in you can get.. adding just a few extra miles every time.
So after wiping out hard on some overflow hiding just before the cabin (which I'll note was NOT there last year), the cabin though 20 below inside, was a welcoming sight. By the time we got there it was dark, so I took this photo the next day. I was shocked how long it took to get the whole cabin to warm up to a comfortable temperature but remembered a radiation problem I had in college about a cabin at 20 below in the White Mountains... that one will always stick in my mind.
Heike and Ben came later on Friday since they had to work on Friday. Saturday, Heike and I took a ski up the Compeau trail to try to get a better view. I should add that she dragged me out.. Without my bike it's easy to become slightly unmotivated to move. :-)
Poops is my neighbors' dog who I'm watching for a month. It's awesome having a companion and is making the winter a little better so far having a buddy. I understand why everyone has pets here now. This summer Poops came by to visit a lot when I was not able to get out very much. She is a very happy trail dog and loyal except for an escape at the beginning.. but it's not that she escaped away as much as escaped up the trail to start the trip without us.
Catch phrase, one of my favorite games as it changes with different people.Poops was pooped out.. I was amazed how her body just floated to the warmest spot in the room and didn't move unless there was food open around the room. Smart dog.
Sunday morning we started out in the starlight to get back to the car so Celine could get to ski patrol. No aurora.. again, but skiing under the stars outside of town was quite the experience. The problem for me in traveling under amazing skies is that I tend to stop and turn off my headlamp to take it in. Not the best tactic for making good time, but it makes for a happy person!

We made it! And my car started without assistance - yeah Saruba!! And saw a group of friends at the trailhead who were skiing the 24 mile loop! So much accomplished by 10am.


Julie said...

Hey Julie! Love your blog! I noticed you have lived in PA. I grew up in Allentown. Look forward to meeting you at the race!


Julie said...

Julie - thanks! I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to undergrad at PSU.. two biker Julies from PA now in AK - small world! :) If you get up to Fairbanks and would like to ride any of the trails up here before the race, let me know! Look forward to meeting you too!

Maria said...

poops is a cute dog and a cute dog name! i love seeing dogs curled up like that.