Tuesday, March 1, 2016

ski du jour, jackson, nh

We discovered Jackson Ski Touring Foundation last year, when snow in Maine for nordic skiing was a bit thin.  Or rather, we rediscovered this place that I had skied in when I was young.  It's a bit different now, skate skiing and the grooming necessary to allow this type of skiing so much more popular these days than the classic cross country skiing typical of my childhood.  Even classic skiing is now done in tracks set by a machine, rather than in tracks blazed by your father in his skis, or by your mother in her snowshoes.

But we love it in Jackson, and have been there often this year as the snow in Maine has again been thin and icy and hard to find.  The inland elevation of the White Mountains has somehow been an island of snow and their base has withstood the thaws and rains for longer than other places.

Stopping off at the lodge to get our passes one morning, we asked about their recommendations for the best trails that day.  We were directed to a section of the trails that we had never been to before, being told they were higher in elevation and had received more snow overnight and should be excellent for skiing, that day's ski du jour.  We listened to the directions, grabbed a trail map, and headed off to the Prospect Farm trails of Jackson Ski Center.

Several miles up a well plowed but rather steep and narrow road, we found our trail head.

We unpacked, started off on the trail, stopped, and applied the glide wax the Jackson employees had suggested that we purchase and carry along with us, as the snow was rather sticky that day.  This is why you talk to people who know more than you at ski lodges.

For Jonathan and I, the skiing was fabulous.  And so very pretty.  For the skate skiers amongst us, the grooming had a bit more fluff than corduroy and the trail was definitely trending upward.

I trucked along, my skis handling the sticky glide best, for some reason.  And a look over my shoulder showed me that my skimates were slowing, struggling a bit with their wax, and getting tired.  Just think about how much fun this will be to go back down, I called down the hill to the four of them.

I was met with silence.

It was one of those moments of parenting, when you wonder if you should abort, give up, turn around, call it a day.  The outing is either about to go down in flames, someone is going to cry, maybe you, or bleed, maybe you.  Or, there is some kind of awesome just around the next corner, if you can just stick it out.

Around the next corner was this, left behind by someone, to amuse us. 

Which it really did.  Now our progress up that trail was sort of a glide glide flop...glide glide face plant kind of movement.  Which worked for quite awhile.

Snacks and non-swishing movements made for a nice break.

I enjoyed the trees in my own way.

The map was passed and considered.  And we all decided to try to go a bit further.

And we headed off again.  A look over my shoulder and I could see just how far up into the mountains we had ascended.

We made it to the intersection of trails that I could identify on my trail map.  A gorgeous old orchard, no longer tended, out in the middle of these woods.  I love these forgotten orchards so.  That was a treat to me.  I handed out cookies for those less enthused by old trees.

I had it in my head that I wanted to get to the scenic vista, so named it must be extraordinary after all, looking so enticing our my trail map.  

Just a bit further up this trail, I told everyone, and we would be above tree line and I would get my view. 

The problem was, an unobstructed view is just not all that enticing to three very tired children.  And the incline was getting steeper by the foot.  Even when you are sprinkling candy incentives from your parka pocket.

I was determined.  I can be stubborn.  But they can be more so.  And so, I decided that this was my lovely view.  Aren't the tree trunks just wonderful framing to that vista of freshly snow covered mountains in the distance?

I allowed as how, given that it was beginning to rain, that it was time to turn around.  That's when I was met with guffawing.  No!  We can go a little bit further!  I think this newly found motivation had something to do with the spritely and much older than me man who had whizzed past us, smiling and looking invigorated as we panted and heaved.

And up they all went past me on the trail.  

But soon, it was far enough, and they turned their skis and pointed them downward.  And it was, in fact, so much fun to head back down.  They all agreed and laughed and and breathed deeply and just flowed down that trail, arms open, eyes directed out at the views.  

Despite the drizzle, and the fading light, and the exhaustion, there was still a good deal of silliness.  

This is the response I get lately when I ask for everyone to turn around so I can take a picture that is not just of their backs moving away from me.  Always following along behind them am I of late.

And some of us clearly still had enough energy to engage in nordic limbo maneuvers.

And soon enough, we were back at the trail head.

And I was reminded that mixed with the sadness of their little people years passing, is the relief that these larger more able bodied people are much harder to keep up with but also can now carry their own gear, blessedly.  So this is good.

And there was still enough energy for snowball baseball in the parking lot.

It was, after all, a fabulous ski du jour.  With a perfectly scenic vista -- albeit between a few trees.

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