Yesterday the forecast predicted imminent hibernation (windchills today of -30) so I set off for the woods while I still could.
I like this park because it gives you immediate gratification. The trails for the most part go up and over the many ridges, rather than along their spines. So if you go up a hill, you go down a hill.
It was still cloudy when I started out. By the time I was done the skies were blue and the hard cold air had arrived.
As I skied, the wind thundered through the treetops. This blocked out the distant sound of the highway that I can usually hear anywhere in the park.
A week ago, skiing here would have been impossible, it was nothing but ice. This day, the trails had still not seen a groomer, but a few inches of fresh snow was enough to make them passable.
This is the park where I skied four times a week when I was on the ski team in junior high and high school. It is 284 acres of hilly hardwoods with the trails packed tightly in so that you can ski and ski, deciding at every intersection which way to go, knowing that you’ll be presented with another option just around the next bend.
You just have to commit, that’s the secret as much as there is one. To paraphrase Alan Sparhawk in Cross Country with the Snakes, you gotta put your foot down, just like when you’re on stage. You gotta put your foot down and mean it.
There’s a powerline that runs through the middle of the park and it is a big wide cut. It separates the front from the back. The time it takes to get there is about the time required for the mind and body to settle down. In that back half of the park, that’s where you find things.
Things like the rhythm of skiing. Poles crunch into the snow, skier strides, skis glide, so on. You start to see that that it is not unto itself, but just another pattern in nature.
But there isn’t anything ahead or behind, just the snow under your skis.