Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Not Quite Ski Week

Every year, Nimue's school has a break not just for Presidents' Day, but for the whole week.  Yay ski week!  Typically our agenda goes something like this:
  • Drive up to Downieville to visit Linda.
  • Spend the busy holiday weekend traipsing around on skis in the backcountry where there are no crowds (at least once you get off the snowmobile superhighway on the way in).  Get good and tired.
  • Eat lots of yummy stuff.
  • Head over to Sugarbowl sometime mid-week when it's not crazy busy, and do several days of downhill skiing until the legs doth protest too much.
  • Go home to insane cats.
This year presented a variation.  It's been freakishly dry and warm.  One feared no snow.  Chad found some local snow statistics that that so far, this is the worst snow year since 1971 (which for me, is the worst snow year ever!)  The snow on the ground is very thin, even up at 7000 feet, making the lower-elevation backcountry options around Downieville somewhat limited.

We thought briefly about taking bikes up with us, but decided to be optimistic about skiing, with our hiking boots tucked in as a backup.  

Look:  actual snow!  What you can't see is that it really just barely covers the dirt.

Based on a local report of conditions, we braved the cross-country trails off of Yuba Pass the first day -- but instead of taking our normal gear for yo-yo skiing up and down the hill off the road, we opted for lighter-weight cross-country gear.  A wise choice in theory...except that Chad's lightweight boots date back to the late eighties and have lived a long and useful life.  They've been reglued and repaired in the past, but that doesn't stop aging plastic fatigue.

Within the space of 5 minutes:
  • buckle and supporting plastic ripped off of one boot.
  • back of sole started to come off of other boot; attempted fix with duct tape.
  • front of sole came off of boot; no more duct tape; fixed with athletic tape.  The entire sole now loose, only held on by tape.
  • plastic fractured on boot; another buckle loose.

The poor things were just done, so Chad skiied very gently out.  Fortunately, that meant I could keep up :)

Of course this all happened when we were at the farthest point from the truck.  A fine outing overall, but going out again wasn't that inspiring, so the next day, we attacked Linda's apple tree, which was in desperate need of pruning.  Perhaps it is just my inherent tendency toward tree carnage speaking, but it was a lot of fun.  I don't have a "before" picture, but at least the tree isn't heading for the power lines anymore, and we cleaned off many eye-poking hazards and one big branch that had been partially broken by a bear.

Apple branches = fun!  Chad made a couple of toys, which made Nimue quite happy.  Sadly, these particular activities probably are not recommended for the school garden club's pruned apple branches (even though the kids would like them a lot!)

After that day of relative sloth, we headed out for a hike, climbing the little hill above town to the (defunct) antenna station.  

Views were nice

and the terrain lent itself to getting sidetracked into exploring old flume routes on the way back down.  We poked around the old foundry site for the Oxford Mine

found some funny rocks

and discovered a leaking water fixture, which we were able to report to an old classmate of Chad's who happened to be out working on another town repair project further down the hill.

 More laziness and good food, then eventually we headed over to Tahoe to downhill ski.  As usual, we went to Sugarbowl.  This turned out to be a good choice:  there was plenty of snow on the groomed trails (some of it man-made) to do some fun family skiing, without having enough for me to either lead people astray off trail, or yearn excessively about escaping family responsibilities.

Nim has clearly remembered how to ski, and is mostly careful -- aside from one amazing butt-slide down a black trail.  She was laughing maniacally at the bottom of that one; I had skiied down around the side of her to outflank her movement should she start heading into the trees.  She regained her groove and skiied it the "right" way on the next run.

Unfortunately, later in the day Nimue took what looked like a minor spill on an easy trail and sprained her knee.  She was able to get down to the bottom under her own power, but after having the first aid person assess the joint and declare it sprained, we decided to cut the day short.  The ski patrol person laughed when we responded to her query about why the fall happened with "I don't know -- must have been snow snakes reaching up and grabbing the skis."

Nim was in good spirits despite this, and looks ready to be up and running without crutches tomorrow.  The miracles of ice and ibuprofen work on the small as well as the big peoples.

Lest you wonder, the cats were indeed insane when we got back, as usual.

1 comment:

eileen said...

Awesome pictures, Anna - I feel like I've almost been there myself. Thank you for your creativity on these shots. Love, Mama