Friday Weigh In: 173 lbs.
One of the most nerve racking moments of my first day backcountry skiing was the first transition from skinning to skiing. I fumbled around with my pack, bindings, gloves – I even took my skis off – before I actually figured out the best and fastest way to peel off the climbing skins, roll them up, stash them away in my pack, zip up and ski down the hill. And while I did get better as the days in the backcountry increased, it was still something I was not as fast at as I wanted to be. I eventually even figured out how strip off my skins while leaving the skis on my feet.
Of course, that is only half of the transitional phase. The other part comes at the end of the run, when it is time to climb back up for more powder. Changing from skiing to skinning is a bit more involved. Skis have to come off the feet, and often times you find yourself in the midst of deep powder. Skis get planted in the snow, skins unpacked, unrolled (don’t get snow on the glue!), re-applied, bindings and boots are switched to climbing mode, the helmet is stashed in the pack, and then, finally, you are off and running, or at least, walking back up the hill.
I suppose however it could be worse. I could be a splitboarder.
Like those transitions on tours, the seasonal transition seems to be fumbling and stumbling. The battle between winter and autumn is at a stale mate, with both sides seemingly content to let the other hang around in small doses, neither wanting to take charge and forge ahead into the coming months. I wonder if winter is simply catching its breath after a flurry of small storms and cold fronts earlier in the month, only to be rested and ready for a massive assault in the coming weeks. It’s possible. Likely. Inevitable. The only real question is when?
And as I said yesterday, the bike riding right now is all being done on bonus time. Like that ambiguous way a soccer game ends, with everyone on the field knowing that at any moment the referee will blow the whistle. The leading team hoping for it to happen sooner, while the squad trailing is praying for enough time to score that equalizing goal. I find myself conflicted. I don’t want the bike riding to end. I’m having fun on familiar trails and snappy legs. I’m craving a trip to the Jem, Gooseberry, Stuki Springs, and all the other increasingly iconic trails in St. George. I want it to be July again. But then, I can’t wait for that first day of powder either.
That first pre-dawn transition from skins to skis, done gracefully and quickly. Or not. But nevertheless, done. A quick glance at the far off horizon before plunging into the deep, and any craving for dirt and dust and mud will quickly melt into the joy and urgency of a powder feeding frenzy. Like winter itself, that moment is looming, inevitable.
The only question is when.