Friday, January 4, 2008

Skis, Snowshoes and Snowmen

A few weeks ago, we finally got enough snow for cross-country skiing. I was elated—especially with a husky, this is my premiere recreational/exercise activity during the winter months. So I headed out to the ski trails behind Colgate—around three miles of trails through a beautiful, wooded area.

Laying a trail is a lot of work—slow, plodding, tiring, not a lot of fun. However, once done, I and others could enjoy it for weeks. Colgate even has a large sign at the entrance to the trails, politely asking people to walk and snowshoe to the side of the ski tracks, not in them. After all, these trails are as wide as roads, so missing the ski tracks isn’t hard. Further, skiers even try to promote this by making tracks along the side of the trail, leaving plenty of room.

Well, this didn’t take long. Day two, snowshoers had ventured up part of the trail, and yep, stomped out the ski tracks. This turns a stable, smooth ski path into a flat, then icy, uncontrollable, dangerous mess. Why? Snowshoeing is difficult work under any conditions—what’s the point of ruining the ski trails?

Day three, the hikers did their due. Now, certainly walking in the ski trail is easily than hoofing through snow—and it also makes post-holes all along the track, completely destroying it.

Day four, snowmobiles. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on these trails, but that doesn’t stop them. Even so, with a trail the size of a road, with one narrow ski track off to the side, you’d think a snowmobile could maneuver around this. Guess not.

And for all the considerate snowshoers and hikers and snowmobilers, it takes one asshole. And so next, when the weather warmed, and when it was impossible to cut new tracks, what would have been a nice set of tracks, nice and contained, resistant to melting temperatures for a while, was now an icy mess impossible to navigate in the deeper areas, and a wet, muddy mess in the shallow areas. Wonderful. Fuck you very much.

I went running along the canal instead, but this was also an icy mess. I could have ice-skated probably, as the ice was beautifully smooth, but I’ve fallen through ice once before and don’t wish to repeat the experience—I’d rather wait for a few days of very cold weather first.

Last week we got a Nor’easter, so I went to Stoney Pond to start over. No, it’s not immune to snowshoers or hikers (although generally safe from snowmobiles), not as many people go there during the holidays—except a few other skiers and their dogs. This works well—we reinforce each other’s tracks, and while dogs will run in the tracks, they don’t weigh as much and spread that weight over four feet. Even deer, although they make deeper holes, make small ones and curiously not that many, just here and there.

Day two—a few snowshoers and hikers, but not too much damage yet. Down by the lake, though, some people had built a snowman—nice job of it, too. Shanti (my husky) saw it ¼ mile away—and barked and barked and barked and barked. This was successful—that snowman stayed right where he was, making no sudden moves and coming no closer. We made a wide circle around it. Next day, no barking—but she sniffed that thing up and down, round and round, a through examination.



slavetaboo said...

This gives people like me who know absolutely nothing about cold weather something to consider. hehe.

EagleCOgirl said...

I think you are being a bit hard on the snowshoers. I am new to the sport and had no idea I could do something to bother the skiers tracks. How in the world would I know that? I will be respectful now that I know. If this is your biggest problem with all that is going on in the world today count yourself very blessed.