Tag Archives: Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing out to Elk Meadows – Saturday, 19-Dec-2020


Saturday, 19-Dec-2020

Elk Meadows really is my go-to destination for the second half of this year, isn’t it?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it does make quite a bit of sense, if you think about it… It’s quite close to home (compared to most other things), it’s fairly empty, and it’s not too long… with quite nice views at the top. It’s also nicely segmented – there’s the flat starting section, then the river crossing, then the steep section, and then the final flat section.

It’s exactly what I want these days – simplicity, consistency, and meeting expectations.

As always, Elk Meadows provided.

The hike started out a bit late, and a bit non-standard… the usual parking lot was snowed in, and so I had to park at the Mt. Hood Nordic Ski Center… not a bad thing, since it was mostly plowed, but it did lead to a slightly different start to the trail. It was a small variation though, and added a bit of interesting spice to the hike – so totally acceptable in my book.

The rest of the trail cruised by pretty much as normal – I skied the flat bits, carried them for the steeper bits, and took them completely off once I crossed the river and started up the really steep bit.

About a year ago I had bought a new pair of cross country ski boots… which is a weird thing to add to a blog, but bear with me. They were a bit more expensive than I’d planned, but they had the huge advantage that they were really hiking boots with ski clips. They were comfortable, warm, and had connection points for crampons, which is exactly what I needed for this hike.

Once I was over the river, the skis were strapped to my backpack, the crampons strapped to my feet, and up, up, up I went through the switchbacks. It went fairly quickly… but I’ll freely admit that it was much harder than I was expecting. The snow was a little deeper than usual, sure, but the real challenge was having these massive, six and a half foot long skis strapped to my back. I kept kicking them, or catching them on trees, and they’re heavier than you’d expect… at least heavier than I expected.

But it went. Slowly but surely, grinding up the trail ’till I made it to the last flat section.

Which turns out not to be flat, but to be slightly downhill… and thankfully, exactly the right amount of downhill that I was able to safely and happily slide my way nearly the whole way onto the Elk Meadows boundary trail. That’s where the beaten path ended, and the “normal” people would simply walk through the wood into a small part of the meadows, take a picture, and then go home. At least, or so the tracks showed me.

Which was awesome, because it meant I had completely untouched snow to ski on!

It was beautiful.

The snow had a nice crust of ice on top – not enough to be annoying or unpleasant, but just enough to help keep me from sinking completely into the powder below. It rasped beautifully; not loud enough to be frustrating, but just enough that it kept that excellent feel of winter exploration going.

I cruised through the meadow, stopping constantly to take pictures and say hi to my little feathered friends that I’ve gotten to know over the course of the year. They were as inquisitive (read: hungry) as always, and even came by to perch on my hand and ice axe a few times. They didn’t really ride along with me, unfortunately, but they were still awesome and fun to spend some time with.

I took a short break at the Elk Meadows shelter, which looked like it had been pulled straight out of a painting, and read a bit as the sun started dipping below the horizon. I enjoyed the quiet, relaxed, and got myself ready for the return trip…

When I forged out from the shelter the snow and wind had started whipping up and the sky was getting darker. It was gorgeous, and the falling snow gave the whole meadow an amazing arctic feeling. That sense was what I had ventured out looking for – the feeling of exploration, and of driving snow hammering down around me.

It was perfect, and the ski / hike out back to the car was exactly what I had been hoping for, and exactly what I needed to help me get myself psyched up for the week ahead.

Sunday, 27-Jan-2019 – Cross Country Skiing at Pocket Creek, on Mt. Hood!


Sunday, 27-Jan-2019

Pocket Creek trail.

Mount Hood.


United States of America.

This day and location shall live on in legend, as the first day that Ben and Sarah put on skiis after breaking their respective knees. The first time that they, either individually or together, faced the fear of re-injury and got back into something similar to a saddle. The first time, since each suffered through healing and recovery, that Sarah and Ben skiied up a mountain.

I mean, it’s sort of a mountain, right?

Okay, fine, we weren’t ON Mt. Hood. We were across the road, in the Mt. Hood national park. In a small, lightly graded snowpark.

Know what? Being safe is important, and discretion is the better part of valor, and live to fight another day, and fifteen different other idioms that mean we made a good decision and were safe, and had a great time with excellent views. And, just as important, the trail was dog friendly (but not snowmobile friendly), so Ollie could come along too, and help pull us up the steep bits.

We drove out, geared up, and headed in. Sarah had her alpine touring kit, complete with skins, and I had my cross country kit – complete with gifted skiis, consignment boots, and hiking poles. I’m still scared of skiing, okay? I don’t want to buy a nice kit before being confident that I’d be willing to ski again.  Both options worked, too!  Sarah’s was a bit more efficient, especially on the downhill parts (I took off my skiis and walked, after my first attempt as downhill cross country ended in white-knuckled terror), but both our setups were pleasant and carried us through.

There really isn’t that much more to say, to be honest.  It was fun, and we had a good time.  Look at the pretty pictures!

09-Feb-13 – New England blizzard/storm NEMO!


Saturday, 09-Feb


I’d been hearing all week about how horrible this storm was going to be. Every news outlet said that we’d be buried, and there was literally no milk to be found in any store. Eggs were gone, bread stored up. It was a bit ridiculous.

I didn’t believe it. The storm started on a Friday, and I had actually biked to and from work that day, running into nearly no trouble in either direction. It was actually a bit easier than normal, to be honest, thanks to the complete lack of traffic on the roads.

So when I woke up on Saturday, I wasn’t expecting too much snow to shovel. A quick look out my window seemed to confirm my thoughts, but I figured that I should do a quick check out the front door… you know, just to be certain.

And when I opened the door, I looked at a wall of snow.

Ok, not literally a wall, but it did come up to nearly waist height. It was a low-wall of snow. Marybe a cattle-fence-level high wall.

But either way, it meant a ton of shoveling had to be done. So I ate a light but hearty breakfast, clad myself in the armor of a New Englander (basically pure arrogance covered by a few layers of waterproof gear) and set in motion clearing the front.

I didn’t stop moving for nearly two hours, flinging the semi-sticky snow into massive piled on our front yard. I pressed forward until I’d cleared everything but the cars and the driveway around them, only stopping once to get a slightly better shovel from the back shed.

With my work for the day complete, I ate a quick second breakfast (it was barely after noon by this point) and went about getting ready for some snow-based adventures. Foremost of them was an event being held in Davis Square – an impromptu snowman making event.

When I arrived at Davis, on cross country skiis borrowed from Marla, I was met with dozens of people making some of the most intricate snowmen I’ve ever seen.

Truth be told there were only a few snow”men”, the snow not being very useful for pacing. Instead, there were tons of huge sculptures that had been carved from the fallen powder, ranging from octopi to hindu gods stretched out on the ground. There was even one section, where a drift had piled the snow high, where people had built an igloo city made up of nearly a dozen domes, all connected by small carved paths.

Overall though, my favorite sculpture was one made by nature herself (the real nature, not some hippy girl). It was simply a statue in someones garden, but the snow blanketing it was so perfectly arranged that it had the feel of some old and weary traveler making his way through a storm. (Ed Note: Shush. Ben’s allowed to be poetic sometimes)

Personally, I teamed up with a girl I’d met to decorate a trio of stone statues. Instead of covering them up, we used big hunks of ice from the pavement to graft wings onto their backs, transforming three dancers into three angels. It wasn’t fancy, but I was quite pleased with myself when it was done.

Once my work in Davis was done I pulled the skiis out of the snowbank and moved onward, deciding to do some exploring around Alewife and into the small paths nearby.

I only spent about an hour exploring the area, to be honest, but it was quite an adventure in that short time – the snow around Davis had been well packed down, but around Alewife no one had been through yet and I was laying down first tracks in nearly three feet of powder. Having Marla’s skiis helped a bit, since she’s a bit taller than me, but even so I had a bear of a time breaking through the untouched trailed. I had a blast.