Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Skiing Adventures

Over the last few days we've accumulated another eleven inches of the white stuff.  All of the snow this year has been light and fluffy which isn't fantastic for cross-country skiing since it doesn't pack.   Every time we get another snowfall I have to reestablish my trails which are covered up and/or drifted over on a daily, sometimes, hourly, basis.  Most of the time the trail is visible as a slight indentation in the fresh snow, but not always.  And if I get off the established trail, I sink almost to my knees which makes skiing a misnomer.  I'm not skiing, I'm trudging.

In keeping with the ol' exercise routine, I always try to sneak activity in wherever I can.  On Monday, a blizzard had been predicted which had been expected to hit before 6AM, but by 9AM, the snow hadn't arrived yet.  Our exercise class leader, Gloria, called to tell me she decided to cancel the class.  She didn't want to take the chance of having some of the more elderly ladies drive some distance and have the weather turn ugly.  

 Since we weren't having class, Gloria invited me to come over to her home and partake of some weightlifting.  I was supposed to go out to eat with my skinny girlfriends from high school at noon, so any weight I could lose between 9AM and 12PM was highly desirable.  I said I'd be right over.  

Gloria and I only live a mile apart, so I grabbed my skis and headed out the door and across our farm to the snowmobile trail which crosses near her home.   The blizzard hadn't arrived yet, but the winds were whipping out of the southeast in the 20 mph range and as I was headed southwest, it seemed I was losing ground with every stride, like a character in a cartoon being blown backward.

 After a rousing twenty minutes of ski-effort, I arrived at Gloria's and we went out to her machine shed to do battle with the weight machine.  She is in her early 70's and in perfect physical condition.  I am in awe of this lady; she's my inspiration.  (And my mother, too, the Elusive Lucille is a force to be reckoned with as we all know.)   

After forty minutes of exercise, it was time to head for home and the Beautification Process I have to undertake before being presentable in public.  I thanked Gloria for her hospitality and hit the ski trail again.  

With the wind at my back, I fairly flew along with much less effort.  I took the snowmobile trail until I reached our farm's north fence line and then headed off onto my trail which was barely visible since the snow was drifting rapidly.  It was cold enough to keep the snow from sticking to my skis, so even though it was deep and harder work, it wasn't impossible.  

I made it home with a half hour to spare and though my Beautification Project didn't work very well, I was even on time for the lunch date. Sadly, I didn't manage to lose much weight in the limited time frame, but, hey, I tried.  I made them feel better about themselves by association.

The snow started falling almost exactly at noon on Monday and continued until well after dark, eventually accumulating a half a foot. When I got home from my girl's day out at 7PM it was a relief even though I only had to drive three miles.  The roads were a mess and I narrowly avoided hitting a car that had plowed into a snowbank.

Tuesday morning dawned and I decided to head to church for the early exercise class.  I had some trouble getting out of the driveway and called Mom to let her know as soon as I got home from town, I'd be plowing us both out, so please, please, don't go anywhere. 

 I hopped around for an hour at class and came home, donned ski apparel and headed out the door one more time.  Might as well ski up to the tractor instead of taking the car, right?  Save the planet and burn the calories and all that jazz.

The sun was shining and temperature was hovering in the upper 20's which is warm for us lately.  I should have known better than to ski up to Mom's though.  The warmer temps caused the snow to become sticky and it clung to the bottom of my skis like glue.   There was no step/glide going on, it was all step and drag.    I stopped at the end of the lane and debated if I wanted to go on or turn back, but decided to keep mushing forward; it is only a quarter of a mile after all.  No big deal, so I have to work a little harder.

By the time I was at the 1/8 mile mark, I was regretting my decision out loud.  There was no one to hear me kabitz as I asked the sky above what the heck I'd been thinking.  I had to break an entirely new trail at this point and the going was rough as every step was to my knees.   I was sweating and supremely happy to finally reach my mother's yard. 

Except for fighting with those blasted shed doors one more time (this time I got a crow bar out and did some major prying and prodding) the tractor started easily and the snowblower made short work of the mess in Mom's yard.  I then drove down to our yard and repeated the process.  The worst part was trying to unbury the mailbox which has almost disappeared.

After an hour and a half, I had the tractor back in the shed.  It was 12:30 and time for lunch.  I grabbed my skis out of the snowbank I had them stuck in and debated.  Should I walk home on the road or should I take my trail back?  Once a trail is broken, half the battle is won.  I reasoned if I went back on the new trail, it would be improved for the next time.  

How wrong I was.  Once again, at the 1/8 mile mark, I was wondering out loud if I could call for a helicopter to pluck me out of this snowy desert.  The temperatures had risen and the snow was now sticking to my skis like Velcro.  I picked up one foot to see a full six inches glommed on the entire length of the ski.  No wonder I was moving at a snail's pace.   

My skis were completely hidden in the fluff and every third step one ski or the other would turn edgewise and turn my ankles over.   As a consequence my boot would slide sideways while the toe was firmly caught in the binding, causing a painful twisting action.  I knew this wasn't going to be good, but since I didn't feel like calling 911, there was only one option.  Keep going.

Progress was slow, what should have taken less than ten minutes was now stretching out to twenty.  I finally reached our two acres, but I let my guard down too early.  Walking on these crazily snow-laden skis was very much like teetering around in six inch heels, if you've ever slipped and turned your ankle, you know what I mean.  I was finally almost up to the windmill but the biggest hurdles were to come, the four foot tall snowbanks that have piled up all winter long.  

Trudge, trudge, trudge, slip....the ski would turn sideways while my foot was pinned to the binding pointing straight ahead.  Ok, yank the foot upright, forward, Trudge, we must get up this snowbank, oh, no.......the other ski turned sideways and I flopped painlessly into a fluffy snowbank.  

I laid there for awhile, panting and sweating, trying to regain my strength, and took stock of my predicament.  My feet were higher than my head, my left ski was pinned under my right leg and I was missing a pole.  The snow was so soft that every grunting effort to right myself found me plunging deeper.  This must be what quicksand is like, I thought.  

I tried to get up with both of my skis on, but there was no way to get my legs untangled.  I flopped over again to take a breather.  Well, this will never do.  Carl won't be home for hours and I can't lie here in the snow waiting for the Spring thaw.   

As I was whiling away the time, I heard a faint noise, almost like a dog whining, and my heart started to pound; even though it was broad daylight, what if there's a dog in the trees behind me?  Or a coyote?  Or a pack of rabid wolves?  I cautiously looked around me in all directions, getting ready to fend off hungry varmints with one ski pole while embedded in a snow bank.   I could see the headline:  'Middle-aged Woman Falls Victim to Snow Mauling.'

 That's when I realized the noise was coming from our Aermotor windmill; there was a very slight breeze which caused the brake to drag a little when the wind switched.  Phew...I wasn't going to be dog meat just yet.

All right, time's a wastin'.  Get up!  With a Herculean effort, I finally managed to get on my knees but I couldn't reach my foot to release the ski binding as it was buried in the snow.  I used my ski pole to dig a trench of sorts and finally dragged the ski with my foot attached close enough to unhook the blasted thing.  

There! Now my foot is free and I can stand up.  And I did, only to have my free foot sink all the way up to my crotch while my right foot was still in the ski, elevated near my waist.    I put my weight on my ski foot and it simply buried itself deeper in the snow.  Oh, great.  I had no choice but to sit down in the snow and try to yank my ski-foot back out of the hole.  After a few minutes tussle with my right appendage, I was baffled.  I tried to put my left ski back on again, but try as I might, the binding wouldn't lock back in place.  Ice had melted in the mechanism and it was jammed.  

I decided to take both skis off, and threw them as far forward as I could, but being covered in the sticky snow, they didn't go very far.  I finally managed to locate my missing ski pole and tried to stand up again, but of course, both feet sank until I was crotch-deep in snow.  Every time I tried to take a step, my ski pants would be forced up my leg to my knees and I found myself standing with bare legs in refreshing snow.

 I am nearly 56 years old and have lived in Wisconsin my entire life, but I can never remember being in this type of situation before.  I guess there truly is a first time for everything.  Since my legs were starting to smart from the cold, I decided there was only one way to deal with this dilemma.  I flopped onto my belly and started to crawl.  We all have to crawl before we walk, right?  

Crawling was much easier, but my elbows and knees sank into the snow, too, and my chin was just above the surface.  I looked like a snake wriggling along the ground.    As soon as I got to my skis, I hurled them ahead of me and kept on crawling a good fifty feet until I reached my old, established ski trail.  

Finally, I thought, I'll put my skis back on and this ordeal will be over.  Except neither of the bindings would work now, and since there was no solid ground to put the ski on and I was getting nowhere fast, I gave up and pitched the skis ahead of me again.  I'll just walk in on the ski trail.  I had to go about 500 steps to get to the house from this point which sounds like nothing, but as soon as I stepped on the ski trail, it collapsed and down I went to my thigh.  As I was struggling to extricate one foot, the other one went down, too.  There I was, straddling my ski trail.  

I tried plowing forward, one step at a time, and sometimes the trail would hold me up, but every other step would inevitably plunge through.  I was exhausted.  Snow-wading is an Extreme Winter Sport.  

Once I was even with Castle Aaargh, I gave up trying to walk, and crawled the rest of the way to the chicken coop and the trail I'd shoveled out this morning.  Since it was a nice day, the Girls were out and about and the sight of me dragging myself through the snow scared them no end.  There was much gnashing of beaks and flapping of wings as they tried to figure out what I was.

  Once I got myself out of the sticky predicament, I saw I'd wrecked one of my ski boots quite badly; the toe binding has pulled away from the shoe.  Oh, well, the boots are probably fourteen years old and worn out.  I wish I only had to replace the boots, but the type of bindings on my skis are no longer being produced, so I will have to buy new skis, too.  Maybe I can limp along the rest of the season; they might not fall completely apart.  

 I know it sounds corny, but reaching solid ground was ecstasy.   I could have kissed the snow like people adrift in the ocean kiss the sand when they land safely on shore, but the chickens had left a 'trail' of their own, so I refrained from being overly dramatic.  

One thing is for certain, it sure felt good to be back on Terra Firma. 




FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Wow, I could finally take a breath when you made it back home. What a scary experience. I'm so glad you made it home.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Alison said...

What an ordeal! I'm glad you made it home. I wondered why you didn't just take the skis off to begin with, but I guess that didn't help anyway. I can just picture the poor scared chickens.

Karen said...

Hi Rainey, we've had alot of light snow with no melt/freeze cycles to firm the base up due to the cold winter. It's like powder all the way to the ground. I will admit it caught me off guard. I kind of enjoyed the crawling, though, it was therapeutic, lol.

Hi Alison, yes, the chickens will likely need some form of therapy.

Missy said...

While reading I had visions of you ending up like the deer you mentioned in your last post. So glad that didn't happen. Not knowing much about snow I had never thought about it being like that. Glad you're OK.

Karen said...

Hi Missy, yes, I thought about ending up like the deer, too! And that's what motivated me to get up on my feet, er, stomach, and crawl, lol.

Carol said...

Oh my goodness what a scary ordeal. Being from the Mississippi gulf coast, I can not even begin to imagine! Always enjoy your stories! Have a great day!

Jennifer said...

Oh my goodness! What you went through! I am glad that you made it back to terra firma okay!

Karen said...

Carol, this was a first for me, too. I've never seen snow like this before either. I've never been to Mississippi, it sounds lovely and Warm!

Jennifer, if someone could have captured me crawling through the snow on film, it would've been hilarious. And I would have had to annihilate them, lol.

outlawgardener said...

Your ordeal makes a great story! I kept worrying about you as I read and had to keep reminding myself that since you were writing this, you must have emerged o.k. at some point!

Anonymous said...

Maybe snow shoes next time! Now I know why I see some skiers with them over their backs. Yesterday I was hiking and had a similar experience where I sunk down in a snow drift that did NOT LOOK like a snowdrift until I was in it. Lucky I did not have more than 30 feet of the deep snow. The rest of the snow had a weight bearing hard ice covering. Glad you made it home.

Karen said...

Peter, I was wondering for real if I was going to get myself out of this predicament. I truly had my doubts for awhile!

Donna, good idea, we do have some snowshoes here and I certainly could have used them. It is amazing how deep the snow is. I will admit it's a great workout, but I wouldn't care to repeat it.

Shirley said...

Oh Karen, I laughed so much reading this! Glad you made it to Terra Firma safely.

Karen said...

Hi Shirley, I'm glad you enjoyed my tale, it was kinda funny after it was over, lol.

PlantPostings said...

Oh my gosh, that was quite a workout! You must be in very good shape. I wasn't sure whether to chuckle or to gasp as I read about your adventures. It's been a while since I've cross-country skied, but I remember well the frustrations you mention here. When everything goes right, it seems almost effortless. But when you get yourself stuck, it can be frustrating. You are brave to go skiing by yourself!

Karen said...

PlantPostings, thank you, I wish I was in better shape, but I'm working on it. Since you are a fellow ski person, you know what sticky snow is like. Awful! LOL