French & Frenchie
I was fairly convinced that I would wake up and go skiing at French Park this morning. Six hits of the snooze button later, I was fairly certain I would go skiing at French Park after work.
I had been soliciting opinions on the quality of French’s trails the previous day at work, and continued to do so today. I knew that the new snow was the only thing making them skiable, and that they likely won’t be come a week from tomorrow (depending on when the rain hits). Jan and The Hammer had a training group on them Wednesday night and said they were in awesome condition, and Speedy gave some kind of an endorsement, so I figured the green light was on.
Around noon or 2 o’clock I felt a headache coming on, and it persisted, even despite my excessive hydration and definitely food-sated state. Probably a sign of sickness, but who can say. The other thing impacting my psyche and my psche was the fact that the temperatures were rapidly plummeting from a high on the day of 15º to an in-the-parking-lot reading of -3º. Oh, Minnesota.
French is part of Three Rivers, so my Hyland/Baker/… pass is good there, too. I began by visiting some very clean restrooms (see excessive hydration above), and then hopped on my crowns and got to skiing. I’ve hardly classiced this season, so this was some kind of a resolution to get back doing what I’m good at. My crowns are and RCS fischscales, and would probably carry me a lot better if I were about ten pounds lighter, such as perhaps when I was in high school. As is, they’re pretty slow, and I compounded that with the opposite wax relative to the conditions. They do kick well and I never have to kick wax, so it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make most of the time.
Maybe as a result of my headache, maybe because of the freezing cold, maybe due to the incredible slowness of my skis, but I did not find the trails to be all that fun. I’m sure if I had skated they would’ve been awesome, but there were no tracks laid for classic, and the powdery snow was making glide even rougher. With a post hoc evaluation of my heart rate, it appears I was hardly moving, at least for the first twenty or so minutes before my watch died. Like I said, -3.
I finished the ski at just over an hour, and definitely enjoyed the last loop a little more than the first. They do have quite a bit of trail lit (over 5k! maybe 7?), and I had seen the sign for Challenge Hill, which, while unlit, was clearly going to be the dopest trail there. Unfortunately, the start of it was ungroomed, and either self preservation or ski preservation kept me from jumping on it. It crosses the not-so-difficult trail a couple times, and at the first of these crossings it opened up and revealed some decent flow which was a lot of fun to toss in. I was still pretty much walking up hills, but there was even one downhill turn that was a little sketchy.
I rounded out my ski by consistently failing to balance on one ski on the downhills on the way back. Turns out it’s a lot harder on classic skis for a couple reasons. First of all, the boots lack ankle support, and so user incompetence and weakness is more obvious. Second, and finally, the skis are meant to compress when loaded with full bodyweight, and boy do these do that. I almost fell on my face the first time the fischscales grabbed mid-glide.
The only other unfortunate part of the ski was my incompetence when skiing without classic tracks, namely that I tend to put my poles between my legs. I managed to stay up despite my best efforts.
In other news, I’ve been listening to the Totally Deep Cripple Creek Backcountry Podcast, and just listened to the episode where Frenchie repeat-guests. That guy is killing it. Give the podcast a listen, for sure, if you have any interest in ski mountaineering, backcountry skiing, or just organic wintertime fun having.
A weak limerick on waking up:
When my alarm goes off, flashing red,
And I do not want to raise my head,
The snooze button beckons,
My brain, oh it reckons,
“Five more minutes til I’m out of bed”