Skiing in the Woods


On Sunday, the entire family, including my adopted neighbour sister, piled into my elderly van, and headed up to the Palgrave Conservation Area for some fun in the snow. 

Palgrave Conservation's Ski Trails

The weather was perfect – warm and just a bit cloudy.

I modified Dog’s boots to help in keeping them on his feet – they now have snaps at the ends of the Velcro, which I’m hoping will help keep them in place.  Just to be on the safe side, however, I raided Tall Sister’s hockey supplies, and taped the ankles, as added reinforcement.  Suffice to say, he’s not really impressed with putting boots on, but they protect his feet against road-salt, and against getting heavy packed snow wedged between his pads. 

When it comes to cross-country skiing, we are not hardcore.  We have only recently started going again, after a 5 or so year hiatus.  We aren’t competitive, we aren’t hugely athletic, we go out to have fun and hope that we don’t fall down too many times.  And we do all this using wooden skis, some of which were in my mom’s family since she was in her teens. 

the family out skiing

The conservation’s only winter access is down an unlabeled, easily missed road off Regional Road 50, leading to a small, nearly-empty parking lot.  The community board at the trail head doesn’t include a map of the trails, though apparently they’re working on that.  We managed to contact one of the people maintaining the conservation in order to get a pretty good trail map overlaid on a google-satelite image.  Good enough, at any rate, for us to be fairly sure we weren’t gallivanting off down the red (aka LONG) trail, or doubling back on ourselves. Palgrave doesn’t charge you for use of their winter trails (unlike a lot of the other places nearby), and it doesn’t get all that many people there on any given day.  We ran into very few people – skiers and snowshoe-ers – and spent most of the trip practically alone in the woods. 

The day was absolutely gorgeous, and we spent a few hours skiing through picturesque forest scenes.  Unfortunately, the snow itself was very sticky, which made for much harder skiing than we had intended – regardless of which wax we tried, snow kept building up on the bottom of our skis, making it nearly impossible to glide, even when going downhill. 

Dog's transformation

Dog turning into a snow beast - snowballs building up in his fur

Dog had an absolutely fantastic time, trundling and bounding and snuffling through snow that came up past his belly.  The snow gathered in rock-hard balls on his fur, until it looked like he was turning into a snow creature. 

 He is slowly figuring out that right in front of me, on the ski trail, is not the wisest place to be, especially on a downhill.  I managed to avoid running him over, though many of my downhill trips involved me shouting “MOVE, KEEP MOVING, RUN, FASTER!” while bracing myself to take a dive if Dog stopped right in my path.  The look on his face as he ran beside me, trying to figure out how I kept up, was definitely worthwhile.

Dog taking advantage of the ski tracks

The day was exhausting for everyone, but it was most exhausting for Dog, who probably covered twice the distance that we did, while carrying a few extra pounds of balled snow on his legs, and walking through snow up to his chest.  He curled up and spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping, dozing and generally lying around.  Of course, by the next morning, when I was starting to feel sore, he was ready to go out and play some more in the snow.  I’m thinking of taking up skiing in the big park near my house, to shake up our evening walk routine – it isn’t easy to tire him out without it leaving me dead from exhaustion.

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