Satchel’s Neophyte Nordic Backcountry Adventure Thread
After concluding my first epic advice-seeking thread after 6-months+ of amazing back-and-forth with . . . GASP . . . A ski purchase (!!!) I thought it only right to begin anew with a thread to chronicle the early days of my XC adventures.
I’m a photographer by trade (amongst other things) and enjoy taking pictures wherever I go and whatever I do, so you can be rest assured that this will be an image-heavy thread. Proceed at your own risk! In addition to recording and reporting on my humble, local tours in and around the Hudson Valley Region of NY, I’ll also use this as a space to discuss and review gear—skis, boots, bindings, poles, packs, relevant clothing, etc...— as well as to solicit much-needed technique tips and general advice from the wiser, more-experience hands among you (read: everyone .
As some may recall, I grabbed a solid post-Christmas deal on some Fischer T78s with NNN-BC Manual bindings, Fischer Offtrack Poles (155) and Fischer Offtrack 3 BC Boots. The day I picked them up, it began pouring rain non-stop washing all the snow away, and in the couple of days that followed temps reached near 60F! Not the best start But here we are a week or so later and cold temps and snow have returned to the valley, so what did I do? I got the fuck out there as soon as I could to test my new setup!
For better or for worse I find that in my mid-30s, I am a man with precious little free-time. I have two kids under 5, one of whom has intense special needs, and am the sole breadwinner for our family of four working a full time gig and freelancing to make ends meet. This means I gotta get it when I can get it and get it QUICK. So I threw my skis in the Wagon this morning along with my boys (no ski attachment for the roof rack yet; it’s en route) and no sooner had I dropped them at daycare, I drove to the trailhead to get a 90-minute tour in before work!
The lot was empty so I had the place to my self, but I found that the main feeder trail out into the preserve was already tracked with boots and skis and snowshoes since the snow had already been on the ground for nearly 24hrs.
I’m 100% brand new to this Nordic BC shit so I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. That said, I was so excited to get out on skis that it literally didn’t matter and I had a big-ass grin on my face as I shuffled out towards the quiet, white woods that may beyond....
I had my morning eyes on “The Yellow Trail”, a lassoed spur of about 1.5 miles leading off to the left from the main access point. This is my normal training grounds as a Trail Runner, so I’m intimately familiar with these woods. I felt like the yellow path’s winding, gentle single track would offer enough variety to keep things spicy, while keeping me on flat-to-slow-rolling terrain that would allow me to find my bearings. As I approached the junction, I saw that what lay beyond was entirety untracked. YES ))
I quickly found my way over the two short bridges and through the fields and into the cover of the woods beyond. I’m not sure what I was really doing to get there, It was equal parts shuffle, and some sort of “jog” on skis. Whatever it was it felt good enough and got me where I was headed pretty quickly and easily....
The light in the woods was absolutely gorgeous this morning and I could not stop smiling as I traveled through them headed towards the lookout point above the Hudson River. I found the Fischers made quick work of the little climbing that there was once I figured out how to lean back on my heels a bit and weight them properly. There was about 4-6” of relatively light (for the East) powder with no crust on it and the skis plowed through it with relative ease, their tips rising up out of it and gliding Easilt forward with each stride....
I made it to the lookout and stopped for a quick break, the Catskills and my own little village in view in the distance...
The way back saw more untouched single track with wonderful fresh snow coating everything in sight
Following that I tackled my first real “downhill”, a short section of sloping single track of no more than 50’ leading to the base of a wooden bridge. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle a little. This leads me to my first and perhaps most important question: how the hell am I supposed to TURN these things!?!?! Haaaaaaaaaa. I mean, I KNOW it can be done, but I’ll be damnned if I know how to do it yet. I fell the first 3x going down, each time right As I attempted to turn to guide myself toward the bridge. Each time I hiked back up to the top persistently, and on the 4th I was able so nail it by using what I guess would be called a crude, one-footed snowplow of sorts to jam myself to the right and towards the mouth of the Bridge. I mean, whatever works right? Sure...for now, but I’ll need to start trying to figure out how to use these more elegantly effective immediately
I followed my own tracks back out of the woods on the yellow trail and found my way back to the main drag to take me back to the trailhead. ..
I REAAAAALLLLYYY did not want to head to work, but I had no choice so I hightailed it back to the parking area, took my skis off, and loaded everything into the Volvo for the quick drive to coffee & work beyond.
All I have thought about all day is my time in those cold, quiet woods this morning. I think I’m going to try and steal back out there and try a different hillier section of the preserve tomorrow morning if I can manage it! I’m fiending for more!!!
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