Skate Skiing Ungroomed Terrain

:date: 2022-02-14 20:31 :tags:

A few weeks ago I wrote about the first serious snowfall in the southeast Lake Erie shore region. This region is known for snow but in my experience, it's been pretty lacking. But after that dumping we very annoyingly went from the worst skiing problem  —  no snow  —  to the second worst: snow you can't use. The problem with over 20" of fresh snow in one shot is that you just sink to your knees and that's that. The normal solution is to groom the trails by running over it with a snowmobile or snowcat or snowdog or pistenbully or something like that. Even other skiers or dog sleds will do. Despite every house owning several snowblowers, it turns out that Buffalo can't manage any of its bike trails in the winter. Of course that's fine because nobody uses them. Ha. Except they do. A lot! And those footprints turn into an icy dangerous mess. The worst surface I've ever biked on were bike trails here covered in such ice.

That doesn't leave a lot of great options for skiing. I personally built a drag and pulled it - unassisted - around a 566m loop. If you think Nordic skiing looks hard, it is actually quite easy compared to the much more strenuous sport of grooming a ski trail with muscle power alone. Unfortunately I could only manage a packed trench wide enough for classic cross country skiing.


And I've been out every single day since that snowfall except the day it rained on me as I went out to ski (didn't want to damage the snow).

Yesterday something special happened though. This snow dumping from January 17 was now pretty old and had seen rain and some 40F/4C days. It had shrunk down quite a bit, melting and increasing in density. Then we had an especially cold snap (0F/-18C to 10F/-12C) for a few days. I went out yesterday with my classic skis at dawn like normal and it was very icy and the snow was very hard and treacherous to ski on. Imagine skiing down mossy rocks in a shallow stream bed. I did one round of my normal set and was kind of apprehensive about doing more. While procrastinating, I wondered how solid the untouched snow was. And I was able to ski right on top of it without falling through! Ah ha! Now we are getting somewhere!

I went right back home and switched to my new skate skis and went back out to see if it was really possible to use them  —  and it was!


Last year I highlighted this awesome video of guys skiing in Alaska.

My scenery isn't quite so spectacular but today the snow was similar to what they were working with.

Today I skated down to UB's frisbee golf course and skied all over it which was a lot of fun. I had wanted to record some video of that, but it was damn cold today. I had to focus on keeping my hands warm since I had to do so many road crossings (carrying snowy skis, etc). But when I got back to my neighborhood forest, there was less wind and I was warmed up, and was able to take some footage.

I was pretty happy with the video  —  well I thought it would be much worse. But YouTube didn't do a great job of preserving detail. So when I ski off and disappear, in my high quality (HD) versions, I'm actually still visible at all times. But it's enough to give you an idea of what this sport is like at the not Olympic level. Also I'm sorry about mumbling but I realize now that was probably a combination of exhaustion and it being pretty cold. I'm not used to saying anything when I'm out.

That yappy dog at 8m30s is often out there at dawn when I am. Super annoying like the person (or people) who think that snow is a magic dog toilet that means they don't have to pick up their dog's excrement. Yes, my new goal is not just owning these fine skis  —  I want the trail too. The whole thing.