The moon was full and the sky was bright on Thursday evening. It was not so full and not so bright on Saturday night when I decided to give my new skins and AT gear a whirl and head up one of the beginner runs at our local ski hill sometime after 8 p.m.
After having successfully figured out how to put my skins on my ski's as well as put my ski's and boots in touring mode I threw on my backpack, turned on my headlamp and started up the hill with my friend, Chris. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had never "toured" with skins on my ski's before nor had I ever headed out on a nighttime skiing adventure. I thought it would be a lot like cross country skiing.
For the record, "skinning" up a hill is nothing like cross country skiing. It is more like walking with two concrete blocks attached to your feet. Not at the beginning so much, but certainly by the time you climb a thousand vertical feet. According to my friend, what we were doing, skinning up a groomed run, was the easiest way to tour. Psh!
I only commented on my burning calves once during the hike. I spent most of the time trying to breathe and thinking about how amazing it was that I was not sliding backward down the steep, icy slope I was slogging my way up. I also kept wondering how such a steep, never ending slope could be classified as a "beginner" run.
After about an hour we made it to the top of the mountain. My first summit! It felt good to reach the top. We sat on the chair lift to catch our breath and remove the skins from our ski's (no easy feat!). Chris took some pictures and posted them to Facebook. While he was posting away it occurred to me that I was going to have to ski downhill, in the dark, with a tiny head lamp to light the way because the moon was nowhere to be seen. What in the world?
Soon we were ready to make our descent. Chris said we should take it nice and slow. I agreed. He led the way and there was nothing slow about his departure. He is a Telemark skier and I don't think they can actually go slow down a sheet of ice even if they want to. I buckled my helmet and started out with a pizza wedge, gaining confidence as I went.
Skiing down that bumpy sheet of ice was an exhilarating experience. My husband was nervously waiting at the bottom of the hill when I returned, not sure if he had just ruined any chance of us touring together by suggesting I head up the hill that evening. "So, how did you like it?" he asked. "Loved it!" I replied grinning ear to ear. He came in for a bear hug knowing he had me hook, line and sinker.