November 19, 2021 Nordic Skiing 0

Up the irons! This ski would probably have not happened if it weren’t for Iron Maiden. My partner had bailed out last minute but I was like fuck it, I’m still going. In my mind, though, i was a little off. It was cold and my motivation was questionable. Off i went anyway, aiming for the little parking area at the o’hara end of the old 1a to see if I would be inspired enough to even get out of the van. The intent was to ski from there to Moraine Lake, a distance of about 50km round trip, if conditions allowed. I set the tunes on random, hoping for a song that would bring me out of my fog.

Can I tempt ya, come with me 

Be devil may care, fulfill your dream

If I said I’d take you there 

Would you go, would you be scared?

Timeā€¦ is always on my side…

“Caught Somewhere in Time”. A fast-flowing sonic river overflowing right up the main street of your mind. I hit replay a few times and arrived empty parking area feeling a little more amped and buoyed by the promise of bright sunshine and warmth to come later.

According to the thermometer in the rolling man cave, it had warmed up to minus 17 at when I finally rolled out at 11am. Both of my index fingers were frozen after fussing with binding and pole straps. The first 3km are flat, making it difficult to shake those cold digits. I knew I would almost certainly get warm on the climb to come, so I worked the mind over matter strategy as best I could until then. It worked, never felt cold the rest of the day.

Although the temperature was screaming green, I waxed a little on the warmer side with rode multigrade blue. This worked well for the first leg up to the lake louise end of Great Divide, but it wore off as I descended Tramline and I started up Moraine Lake Road. No problem I thought, I’ll just stop for a touch up, at which time I discovered that I had forgotten to carry wax. Very rookie. Things were pretty slow for a bit until I encountered another party who were kind enough to wax me up. From there, it was much easier going up to the viewpoint. 

I considered travel beyond the viewpoint and explored a few metres in that direction. There were tracks present for about 50 metres past the machine-packed area; going beyiond there would involve 3km of breaking trail through a 15cm crust sitting on a layer of rain-affected sugar. There’s not a lot of snow accumulated in the avalanche zone above yet, but likely a lot of instability. A slide could potentially reach the trail, so that route now falls outside of my boundaries of acceptable risk. Different from a week ago when travel thru the avalanche zone was a non-issue. 

The temps were decent, ending up steady around minus 10, but the sunshine I’d hoped for never materialized and in fact, it started to snow as I neared the end of the outward leg. So I sat on the guardrail, ate a chocolate bar and then headed back toward the “real world”. But then i thought maybe I’m not actually going back to the real world, but leaving it. Snow had filled in the tracks with a dusting of cold, fine snow, like icing sugar on french toast. Made for slow but sweet silky striding. There were finally some signs of the sky breaking up as I arrived back to the parking lot at twilight.

42 stoic km, 600m up, 5.5 hours on the move. Would have turned back earlier if not for the wax fairy who saved the day. Thanks again, Chip.