Before I totally close out the winter season, I need to have one last post to give a shout-out to the fantastic skiing we enjoyed this year. In late November, it seemed that we were off to a great start, with the first snowfall right after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it didn't last, thanks to rain and warm temperatures. But not to worry, as we were skiing again over the holidays. During January, we suffered another setback, with more rain. I had secretly been hoping to ski a lot over the winter, so that I could work up enough stamina to ski the Banadad trail. Ten years prior, I had set that goal, and with my friend Maureen, was able to do it. I knew that I needed a certain amount of training days if it was really going to happen. Rain didn't help that cause at all.
But then February surprised me. Normally that can be a drier month, with the sun climbing a bit higher each day, and the snow enduring, but not getting better. This year was different, as we got fresh snowfalls scattered throughout the month. I was able to get out on the trails fairly often, and started to rack up some decent kilometers. Maybe there was hope for a long ski adventure after all.
In early March, it warmed up again and the snow got crusty. I pretty much ruled out the Banadad, until once again, Mother Nature surprised me and gave us more new snow. I went skiing with Greg and our friend Ruth right after that, and it felt so great out on the trail. I made the snap decision that I was just going to go for it. I figured that I should just do it the next day, and then I wouldn't have time to change my mind. I packed my knapsack, downloaded a book onto my ipod, and declined to have a beer the night before. "I'm in training!" I told Greg, when he made the offer.
So on Wednesday, the 13th of March, Greg drove me down to Poplar Creek B & B, where the Banadad Trail begins near Poplar Lake. What a gorgeous day! Loads of sunshine and blue sky, perfect for taking photos. The starting temperature was in the teens, and though it was predicted to get up into the high twenties, I figured the trail would be fine.
In the ten years that had passed, I noticed that the trees had really grown up. It was wonderful to be back on a single-track trail, one where the trees lean in a bit, creating a feeling of shelter. The old East End Trail used to be like that. I skied along, watching for the landmarks noted on the map. It wasn't easy to spot them all, as some were just benches placed on the trail. I spotted one by chance, buried under the deep snow. When I got to the bridge that crosses over the flowage between Rush and Banadad Lakes, I saw my first sign of spring. The ice and snow had melted away in patches, and I could see and hear the running water. That was a happy sight.
The trail ahead was not groomed, but since there was only one path through the woods, I knew that I was headed in the right direction. At this point, the temperature was approaching the low thirties. That, combined with the sunshine, really began to challenge me. The snow was crusting over on top. I would break through it, and below, the snow would clump to the bottom of my skis. I stopped to spread on a layer of maxi-glide, which is supposed to make the bottoms of waxless skis move a little better on the snowy surface. It helped some, but mostly I just needed patience, stopping to knock the rockers off the bottoms of the skis. Since I was alone, with no where else to go, I just kept persevering, enjoying the day, the snow, and the sun.
Overall, it took me a little longer to finish than I expected. It is approximately 17 miles, and I did it in 6.5 hours. With a sense of relief and accomplishment, I took off my skis and got into the car at the western end of the trail to head home.
In the days since, I've debated whether or not I will try it again. That will depend on snow and schedules in future years, but one thing I know for certain. It might be best to do it again sooner, rather than wait ten years. It is a great trail, and I'd love to see it again, to check on the progress of that wonderful young forest growing in there.