Crust Cruising

Crust Cruising ~ Lucky me

The last five years I've been transitioning from Alpine/downhill skiing to Nordic/skate skiing, and I've most recently added classic/tour skiing as yet another way to enjoy the snow season. Nordic skiing is quiet, close to nature, serene. I love my cozy little Nordic lodge, with it's crackling fireplace. And everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to be drinking the Kool-aide because there are happy smiles everywhere. I don't think I've ever heard a crying baby or a whining child or adult. Even the teenagers are happy, acting like puppies; frolicking, zooming around, playing and tumbling about. And talk about a workout! My running friends, whom I admire and have the utmost respect for, say skate skiing has a cardio component akin to running. I'll take their word for it, because I do not run, never have and never will. It's just too HARD!

We have a fairly large trail system and a talented grooming team that never disappoints. Our paths meander through the woods, with high mountain, scenic lookouts, visiting foxes and chubby gray jays to greet new passersby.

A few times a year, usually in the Spring, when the planets align just right, the nighttime temperature falls to the exact low, the morning air and snow temperatures cooperate, the sun rises warming the snow, oh, so perfectly, there exists the optimal conditions offering up the opportunity for Crust Cruising.

This morning, as I was skating around, it wasn't even on my mind, this fleeting fancy of fun. I was just enjoying the view. Then my wandering eye glanced at the sparkling snow, the way the sun was glinting off of it. My breath caught and my heart skipped a beat. Would it? Could it be? I tentatively stepped my skinny skis off the track. They didn't sink; nor did they skitter and squirrel around. Cautious I was, because like Bambi in the scene where he tries the ice for the first time, too slick of a surface may cause a skier to slip and flail about, and land unceremoniously on one's back. Not a good athletic maneuver to attempt with this middle-aged body for sure. But no, the surface was firm, and smooth, with just a tiny bit of tooth to make for a steady skate.

I pushed off. My skis left no telltale tracks and only made the quietest whisper as I left the beaten path and headed out into the meadow on my own. I rambled through the trees, around snow laden creeks, over the flats and up to the Butte. I went around, and back and forth, and here and there, feeling like a puppy myself. I laughed out loud, even though I was by myself. I couldn't help it. The conditions were absolute perfection, and I was able to enjoy it fully, because as perfect as the conditions were, Crust Cruising is an evanescent state of affairs.

As the sun climbed higher, I could feel the air temperature changing. The breeze on my cheeks as I skated around was warming up. I was glad I had remembered to put extra sunscreen on! When the sound of my skis went from a whisper, to the sound a saddle makes when a rider mounts their horse, and I could see the telltale skate pattern in the snow, I decided it was time to turn around and head back to civilization. I knew the expertly groomed paths would still be that crispy corduroy that all skiers love. You see, I was down hill, a slightly lower elevation, where it's warmer and the snow softens first.

I made my way back to my happy little lodge, euphoric really. I had enjoyed the bounties of nature, the beauty of the Cascade mountain range, thrilled at the gifts life has to offer, grateful to my core. It was my lucky day. As I drove back down the mountain, away from the Alpine skiers, windows open, enjoying the warm spring sunshine, passing cyclists and then runners, I thought, well really, it's a lucky day for all of us.

No comments