Stinch 2013: Do What Ya Can with What Ya Got!
February 24, 2013
Last week was dry, nasty and icy until Friday dawned with 4" of fresh snow around here. Oh joy! --Really!
Saturday morning I skied Rose Lake for a couple hours with Layne and Deon. We had a blast. The snow was great until noon when it got sticky -- but I bet it was still great after that if you had the right skis! OK, maybe not so much. Sometimes a warm-up brings its own kind of nice skiing, but on really fresh snow it might notta been so nice.
Today was the Stinch Loppet over near Pinckney. We tried starting an hour earlier than planned, at 9am, to get it while it was cold. 10 of us showed up. There was only a packed inch on the trail, but we had a gay old time for 3 hours. I used my waxables at first -- lost grip near the end then switched to no-waxers and found new life for our last half hour. It got a bit packy and warm but I suppose now it's transforming a bit so the warmth kinda evened it out. Still, there were fast spots, slow spots and you sometimes had to tilt your ski to "milk" the speed just so -- or lean forward or back a bit to bust loose your inner glide.
But I messed up at the start. I forgot my skis and poles! Let that be a caution to ya! I drove 12 miles before remembering. Arrived late. Thanks for waiting! Warning: run thru a gear checklist before leaving on ANY outing no matter how small! Even to the grocery! Memory takes work. Ya can't count on it. Least I can't. I was remembering my boots then suddenly I accelerated and boom the deed was done. Ugh! Oh well -- it's probably been 10 yrs since I did that.
So we skied for 3 hours and were laughing the whole time at our Lower Michigan Ways. Here we were, rockin' the Big Inch. We tried avoiding the sunnier downhills with exposed babyhead rocks. But some of the uphills with smaller sun-dried pebbles weren't so bad -- gave a bit of herringbone grip. Same with the occasional dry roots on uphills -- they made scampering up a bit easier. Yes, we know how to milk it here.
We laid out 3 different good slogans, including "Do what ya can with what ya got." There was also something like "When it doubt do it the easy way." And other I forget. Anyone know?
Stinch offered us mellow snack stops and several potent uphill jam sessions where everyone did their own thing and got starry-eyed by the top.
Back at the parking lot we kept up our merriment with microbrews and booming minivan stereos. And we kept laughing at our Michigan Ways. "It was better than I expected." ...In reply: "What would worse than you expected look like?" We laughed. If it had been no snow, just sun on field grass, we probably woulda spread a picnic blanket and soaked up the solar power. That works, too.
As we skied some of our nowaxers or waxables would occasionally pull up chunks of snow, exposing leafage. "Dang, nowax skiers, messing up our ski trails!" At first we whined about how the fatbiker with us was messing up our trail. The funny thing there was that certainly the conditions were better for biking so really it could be said we were getting in his way. But, actually, neither of us changed conditions for the other in the softpack over dirt. A little smushing this way or that made no difference. But then our sensibilities became refined and we started bitching about the wrong kind of skiers messing up our trails. "Can't you wax right? Messing up our trail."
Rossignol EVO Tours ruled the day with maybe 6 pairs present, all but one with NNN-BC bindings. One had SNS-Pilots, just to be cool. These are popular -- and beautiful -- blue midlength allrounder skis.
We also laughed about the idea of Rock Skis. Fancy skiers have their "good" skis and their "rock" skis. Good is for quality grooming. Rock is for sketchy thin snow where you might scrape your bases on debris, sticks, and rocks. I've known kids to come to MSU for college and join the Nordic Ski Club -- and NOT ever ski because "I don't have rock skis." 4 years of lost skiing! Heck, we locals just have SKIS. And all our skiing might or might not involve occasional rocks. Maybe half the time there's a good chance of rock. So we don't NOT have rock skis. We also don't have "good" skis. All our skis are good! They like rocks, too! I haven't known us to wear any out yet, either. Skis can take a lot of rockage. Our skis anyway. Nobody skis with expensive, fragile, featherweight, singlepurpose toothpicks. Those aren't skis! They're toys! So we laughed. Our skis are good for other reasons. --Their grip, glide, handling.
Well, I'm tired enough... A good tired. All over. Worked.
We enjoyed listening to Henry's rock band CD during the parking lot party. We decided that MS-80 is a tight band...and that they're ready to ski and ride. Once you learn to ride, you're ready to ride. That's how we roll. We're going to invite the kids to one of our summer JessopFests and have em join the jams on the deck after the ride. Maybe other teens would join in then. Do they rock hard enough to ride? That's what these kids have to ask themselves. You can't ride or ski if your spirit isn't free.
An odd thing happened that we noticed... This fall someone went around this big, special, protected nature preserve and nailed up woodburned signs in a couple dozen places giving trails the names of their friends. Ummm... The signs stayed up for months. They were the definition of graffiti vandalism! University property! No meaning to anyone but one person! This at a place where if a sustainable no-impact user other than the accepted groovy ones tries to move about and breath they might get wrestled to the ground by a bird-watcher. Bizarre! They must either be, or be a friend of the power-birders-that-be. Their persisting can only mean that power is tolerating them due to their own power. There is zero content involved -- purely power relations of some kind. A few years ago my friends and I installed red tape flagging one night to guide Loppet skiers the next morning. Afterward we'd go take it all down. In the morning someone had already beat us to it. Saw it, tore it down. ...The explicit difference of power. We weren't even given a chance to mis-use our flagging by leaving it as litter. Actually they simply wrecked our course -- they must've known that. Must've not seen it one day, then saw it the next and booted us, no questions. Heck, it mighta been a birdwatching trail set up for a class, for all they knew. But, no, they felt free to exert their power. Paperwork wasn't filed, sure. ...But we didn't have power on our side, either. Just a little common route-flagging. Now, trail names can be OK sometimes but they're usually directional or make sense somehow, like "Rollercoaster." In a wild place like Stinch they're useless, a bad idea, have never appeared before. If present in the form of the names of your friends they're patently worse than useless. A headslapper. Don't see such doozies that often. Whew!
Thank heavens for the great skiing, though!
Welcome, my friend, to the show that never ends! ...Step outside, step outside!
The party hearty.
Rest stop in the NW sector by the Old Car. What's that? A BIKE! Aaaiiieeee! There are nice hills in here that most visitors never see. With exploring in any season. Oh yeah...
On the way up the biggest hill at Stinch. It's a nice one. Worth the drive.
We like to ski up big hills.
Here we are at the top of the 2nd biggest climb. It's still a toughy. RadNord is on the left. Last week he won the UphillDownhill race at the Porkies Telefest -- a downstater showin' em how it's done. He trains on this hill. That's how good it is.
I kept wanting to get pics of the whole group as it cruised along in the sunlight. I'd pull over then overone would be gone. Here I get a great chance as folks steam up the biggest hill here. A half-mile beauty of joy. And a bit of vision-blur.
I kept seeing wonderful vistas of skiers. I was at the back a lot, fooling with my slow camera, and wax. So I'd look up and see the group flowing away, up and down some lovely terrain. It's basically the best thing to see. Artistically there's probably a word for it. Pretty? ...People wending away, up and down, off into the distance. Colors amid the contrasts of nature.
A nice scramble up. Up is good.
A new kind of snow bike...
Nice, patient group.
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