Tag Archives: ski bum life

Spring ski day with horsey moments

Went skiing this morning at Timberline. About six inches fresh snow; got 3-4 more inches while we were skiing. Heavy powder. Not as heavy as earlier in the month. It wasn’t grabby powder, just heavy. I was glad I’d waxed the skis heavily as that turned out to be just perfect for the conditions. As it were, I still kept muttering that we weren’t in shape for these conditions. Heavy work for the quads, for sure.

There were several slopes where I just pointed the skis downhill with about eighteen inches between my feet (to keep the tips from tangling, a problem I have with my shaped skis, and heavy pow will do that), leaned back, and sledded down. Lots of bounce, bounce, bounce when I did that. Slow snow, so perfect for that. Powder’s much more fun when one isn’t hurting and the quads are in shape!

We tended to shun the wide open slopes (our usual haunts) for the narrower runs because they weren’t getting chopped up. If I’d been in better condition it would have been the perfect day for tree skiing. Lots of other folks were doing that, because otherwise the big slopes were just getting chopped up and heavy. We retraced our trails enough that we could see where the snow had filled in our tracks in ten-fifteen minutes.

Perfect little snow globe day.

Afterward, we stopped by the Burro for pork belly tacos and then to the barn and Mocha. I can’t believe how much she’s shedding this year. I think some of it is due to limited rolling due to limited turnout; still, I swear she’s shedding both winter AND spring coats at once!

She tolerates the restricted schooling routine. Key word: “tolerates.” We start out with me putting her on the bit and in collection. It’s a departure from the usual methodology I’ve done with this horse but given that I’m  striving to keep a bit of muscle tone on her, I want her first moves to be under restraint, and then move toward relaxation. While she’s never yet come out of the stall on tiptoes, it’s still pretty clear that she’s tired of no turnout, walk-only works. Today I got a bunch of grunting through the process, which is one way she expresses grouchiness with what we are doing. So–first lap slow, small, collected work, second lap I ask her to extend the walk while still being on the bit. Most of the time she lines right out but today she decided that meant I wanted her to break into trot. Not once, but several times.

Nope. Not yet. Not until that bar shoe goes (projected to happen–maybe–in June).

Besides weaving in and out on two tracks (half-passish), we also schooled boxes. As in walking box shapes with sharp haunches turns, about 10 feet by 10 feet. Then backing the same. One of the beauties of this mare is that after backing the first box, she started anticipating what we were doing. But instead of anticipating in an obnoxious, pissy way (ie, “we’re at the place where we do something, so I do it before I’m cued!”), she slowed and waited for the cue. Very nice when she does that. I think she was looking for her tracks because a couple of times, she sidepassed over to back in her previous tracks. Just a case of half a step or so, but…..very nice.

We backed six boxes. That’s probably enough.

Her haunches still look to be in good muscle tone, which pleases me because that’s why we do all the backing work. Her shoulders look good–well, that’s because we keep doing the small circles and the two-tracking work.  She’s put on weight in the barrel. I figure we’ll have to start doing aerobic conditioning once she’s out of that shoe, but…before then, I’m going to be doing more extensive walk work to try to at least get a head start on that.

At least she seems to have gained enough weight that I can put the English saddle on her. I figure we’ll start with that for conditioning, then move into Western once I deem her sufficiently fit for extensive canter work.

It’s a work in progress…and I groaned when I slid off of the bareback pad today, because between skiing slow deep stuff and then schooling horse bareback, even at a walk….OUCH.

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Bluebird ski day

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Ski grrrl in the back of the Subaru at the end of a lovely spring bluebird ski morning.

We got up to Timberline about 8 this morning. I resorted to buying a cup of coffee in the lodge, because after chasing kids on Thursday, then canning like a madwoman on Saturday, I knew I needed something more. A 12 oz coffee with two doses of Chocolate Caramel and one dose of Hazelnut creamer worked right nice.

It was clear and sunny, although there was a thin layer of brown haze that floated over the Cascades and obscured Mt. Jefferson (and we probably breathed it in as well; it was aimed at Hood too). Chinese pollution? Slash burning in the Coast Range? Hard to say. But it was in a distinct air layer and it blew on through.

The snow was definitely spring snow, and Timberline had Palmer chair running. We didn’t venture up to Palmer but our only flirtation with lower levels was the short run down West Leg to Norman. Riding up, we got second chair, and I briefly flirted with the idea of a warmup run down Norman before moving over to the Mile. But as I eyeballed the snow, I made up my mind that we were going to the Mile.

And it was lovely. Gorgeous spring snow. Hard, with a little softness from the grooming. No death cookies of ice up high. I thought about Palmer, and then thought about this year’s boot struggles and everything else. The Mile was good enough for today.

The boots are working well. I wore my lightest socks on Thursday; washed them and wore them again today. No pinching, no tightness, and just a wonderful smooth flow between leg, boot, and ski.

Afterward, we stopped by the barn and I gave Mocha her slow-mo workout. We worked on trying to get her to take a cue as to which leg to start with over a pole. Um, not there yet. But working on it.

And now home, and the big computer’s messed up. Sigh. Oh well, such is life. At least I still have the laptop.

Nonetheless, it’s spring, and I’m enjoying the mild weather.

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At last, a sweet ski day with a horse bonus

Good ski days–heck, any ski days–have been in short supply around here. Either I’ve been hurting, or the snow’s been crap, or it’s been raining….but yesterday everything finally coalesced to make a nice day.

The boots seem to finally be broken in. They’re a stiff and responsive boot; essentially an advanced level but one of the lower advanced levels. What that means is that I’ve had to learn that any move of my foot and ankle translates into ski movement much more sensitively than it has before. Dealing with this requires the development of quiet legs, upright body, staying balanced and on top of the skis without falling into the back seat or leaning downhill. IOW, I’ve got to be on top of my game, and yesterday, I finally got myself dialled into the boots. When we stopped, only my right big toe was numb. That’s progress–seriously.

Snow conditions were nice, too. With the warmer winter, we’ve not wanted to venture down to the lower runs. Grabby snow hasn’t helped with my boot issues or my sore spots. Yesterday, though, the snow was firm, packed, and crunchy. We did one run down Kruser and then turned around to head up to the Mile–which was in perfect shape. I did some body placement/turn drills down Kruser; primarily my go-to drill, which is the poles across the palms in front of the body, facing downhill, working my turns while facing the fall line. It clicked. As a result, I started smoking my way down the Mile, only going back to being hesitant when the snow got more chopped up. Still need to develop confidence in these boots in crappy snow. But that will come.

We did seven turns in all: seven miles plus connecting tracks. 6 turns on the Mile, 1 turn on Kruser, connecting run to Kruser, a quick shot down Glade to Norman, another quick shot from the top of Norman to the Mile. A good ski day.

The high overcast and lenticular formations over the top of Hood warned of incoming weather. We’d hoped to beat it and we managed to do so, leaving Timberline just as the precip moved in. For once I was able to spot the Willamette from the Mile chairlift. We also watched the clouds move in across the north Willamette Valley during our last ride up. One moment you could see the shadowy forms of buttes and the dark brown, swollen river. The next, they were wrapped in gray shadows and no longer visible.

By the time we reached the barn, it was raining steadily. Mocha was happy to see us; husband was surprised at how quickly she can turn from the manger to the stall door to be ready to go. I found that it was easier to work my hips and sit upright after a good ski session and my upper body seemed to be much more stable. Mind you, this is all walk work. Mocha’s got at least another six weeks of restricted work and it’s probably more like twelve more weeks, until that hoof wall grows out. At least she’s making good progress.

We did go for a short outside hack after our work, even though it was misting. She didn’t mind, and stepped right out.

Afterwards, we went home, did chores, and a lot of other stuff. I had to chuckle at the memories of the times when we skied, then came home and collapsed. Guess the old farts are getting into better shape.

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Musings on a Sunday morning…writing, skiing, horse

I’ve not been blogging a lot lately. Some of that is due to life circumstances–busyness, active work on creating some new options, surviving at the day job, horse stuff–and some of that is due to actual writing.

Well, maybe not so much of that this month. But there have been revisions and wrangling with software for e-publishing things, as well as thinking and planning for marketing work. I also have two side nonfiction projects that are in a development stage–mostly memoirish things that require regular notetaking.

Winter has also been somewhat delayed until the past week. We went skiing yesterday, and for the first time, it actually looked like winter ski season at Timberline. The Cascade snowpack has been at 49% of what it should be; that should change significantly due to the storms of the past week and the upcoming storms next week. Yesterday’s ski session was good, but I’m definitely noticing a mental hangover from last year’s crash and the difficult time with boots. I’m skiing more cautiously and tentatively. I asked the husband about it and he noted the difference. However, with this last bout of snowfall, I think I can make it worth my while to now plan to get in at least one day of skiing during the week–just getting time on the slope will get me past this phase.

The good news is that the Dalbello boots and I are finally clicking. They’re a stiff and tough boot to break in, but breaking in is finally happening. One reason for my tentative skiing is that I’m learning these boots. They are a very sensitive and reactive boot, so I have to ski with a firmer touch. Yesterday’s deep Cascade concrete–heavy, wet snow piling up steadily–also called for a more upright, backward balance to keep my tips from digging in and tripping me, and it was the first time I’d skied this boot in these conditions. On the other hand, the conditions also led to a rather cool moment where I pointed my skis straight down an ungroomed slope (last 200 yards of the Mile, transiting over from Norman), rocked back a little bit, and just bounced down the slope as if I were sledding on the skis, no turns. The boots floated nicely with my feet, good and stable, with solid support. I maybe saw my tips every few bounces–about a good six inch depth in places. That was definitely a “whee!” moment.

The other thing I noticed yesterday was that there were definitely moments when, with less experience and a softer boot, I would have gone down. Nonetheless, I’m happy to figure out that these boots really do work, and what I need is just many days on them to get myself in tune with the Dalbellos. I think I have spring skiing plans….

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And then there was après-ski with Mocha. We have to scale back on our work–she’s tweaking something and coming up sore, as in okay at the start of the work but sore as we stop (all walk work, either long line or bareback, happens in long line mostly). I suspect it’s either the weight of the shoe, or breakover from the foot growth. I’ve also been using side reins set for a snug collected frame when ground driving, and I think that’s another factor. So we’re going to back off of the more collected and elaborate work, and go with looser side reins.

A greater concern is that I’ve been watching her hock movement as we ground drive, and I’m really not thrilled with what I am seeing. Much contemplation here.

Anyway, onward with the day.

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Ski Grrrl’s baaack

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First day back on the slopes–latest for some years, but given the conditions, well, that’s just the way it is. Even though the snow was lower than it should be, it was still a gorgeous bluebird ski day. Crispy groomed packed Cascade concrete. Yum.

(actually, well worthy of a big grin)

I was somewhat conservative today. While I try to do a ten minute yoga practice (with video) almost every day, with Mocha being ouchy I’ve not been riding as much. I’ve also just been tired and not wanting to work out as hard. Add to that the difficult new boots, and I wanted just a plain vanilla slope to make sure the hips and knees worked, and to get myself back into it with the new boots.

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I went photo-mad early on because the light was one I hadn’t caught before. There were some interesting cloud patterns over Hood, but I don’t think I caught them just right. The closest was probably one snap from the iPhone.

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But it would need edits. Nonetheless, I could see it as a story illo with some edits. Or maybe a cover.

Anyway. The new boots are working wonderfully, though I may need to get the toe area stretched a little. We’ll see how they break in. I love the way they stabilize my heel. My heels tend to like to wander and most boots run too wide for my heels. Not these. The Dalbello Electra is a stiffer boot than I’ve skied before, and they are a beyotch to wrench on, but once I get settled into the sweet spot in the boots, they are a responsive and easy boot to manage. Amazing, considering all my issues last spring–but that’s usually The Way of Boots. It’s better to start out the season with the new boots.

Eight runs on Norman, all told–about six miles. Not much wind, sunny, interesting light, packed powder and not ice–made for a nice ski morning. The first hour or so was mostly us older folk, and then about ten the kids and other folks started showing up.

My weaker leg ached slightly but it stopped during each lift ride, which meant I was working it but not killing it. I never felt like I was getting tired and sore enough to have control problems, or hips not working (which was another reason to hang out on Norman–straight shot down the slope with lots of little rolling pitches).

Not too bad for a first day on the slopes.

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Breaking in the boots

So last year was another hellish Year of The Boots in ski world. I’d skied enough days in my trusty Atomic 80s to pack out the liners. Some people can get away with cruddy footwear but I’m not one of them–for me, boots that are too loose lead to lots of falls and lack of control. But the counter is that I’m hard to fit. I need room in the toe box with a snug heel. That means boots with a last designed for a woman’s foot. Add to that the reality that I wanted to move up a level in responsiveness–that meant a stiffer boot. The 80 in my previous boot’s name reflected a measure of boot stiffness called flex–most beginners ski a 60 or lower flex. I wanted a bit more control.

So I went out to buy a new boot in April. Ski boot buying in April, in my size, sucks. I had a spare pair of boots around the house I tried to make work but they were too big, didn’t fit my arch, hurt my feet horribly and made me trip on the stupidest inclines. A short spell in rental boots in the right size pointed that need out sharply. But when I went shopping around PDX, I literally could only find five pairs of boots in my size, with the requisite stiffness, in the local shops. REI had pulled their stock for the summer and–well, given my foot issues, I’m not about to buy boots online. Nor was I going to forfeit six more weeks of ski season.

Ergo, the Dalbello Electras. I kinda sorta got used to them, but the crappy thing for me in buying boots toward the end of the season is that they usually don’t work well. If my feet are already unhappy in boots, they want to stay unhappy, and while I could feel the potential in the Electras, the reality was that I’d upgraded a level of stiffness in a ski year that already sucked due to packed out boots, a bum hip, and lousy May weather. I packed the boots away for the summer in June, planning to take them into the shop this fall to get some adjustments made to the fit.

I still haven’t done that. Part of my rationale goes back to carefully thinking through the process. The Electra is not only a stiffer boot by level (90), but they were on the stiffer end of a 90. They’re a higher skill level boot, so, instead of merrily pulling them on and going skiing, or hauling them off to the shop, I decided to suck it up and dedicate my Thanksgiving furlough break to breaking in the boots (and acclamating my feet to the dang thing). I look at it as being like a version of breaking in high-quality riding field boots–the more time I spend breaking the boots in and conditioning them, the better fit they’ll have. Rather than try to break them in and ski with them simultaneously, maybe it’s better to spend some time clomping around the house and doing stuff to break them in.

After all, there’s only two feet of snow at Timberline. No precip in sight. It’s close to ski time but not there–and no way am I going up with levels this low. My character Melanie would, but she’s also a hell of a lot better skier than I’ll ever be (and much more obsessed).

Last night I made it to an hour after wrenching the boots on. They came on easily tonight, and I did a light weight workout wearing them and I’m at two hours. One thing I’m figuring out is that perhaps I don’t need the heavier socks I’d started wearing in the Atomics (ulp, perhaps that was a sign of upcoming liner packing out). I’m starting to get the ball of the foot to spread out in the toe box for optimal ski tip control (it’s how I visualize the control) and the heel cup in the liner, while tight on my heels, is about the only dang thing I’ve run into that nails down my wandering heels hard and keeps them from wandering.

This could work.

Hmm. Maybe tomorrow night I’ll move beyond working out and clean tack while wearing ski boots.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking snow in probably one of the few places in the US that isn’t wet and snowy right now….which is unusual for us. And that makes me nervous in various other ways.

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Conquering the ski boot issue and writing process stuff

I think I’m finally getting this boot thing back under control. It’s been freaking annoying, really, because I’ve spent this ski season fighting my boots, my goggles, um, what haven’t I been fighting? Oh, yeah, the skis.

Anyway. After crashing in a stupid spot last Sunday, I went boot shopping and ended up with a pair of high level boots at a major, major discount (Dalbello Electras, for those who want to know). They’re as stiff as stone, but I feel the fit adjusting with each turn I take in them…and as I get used to these little darlings, I grow to like them even more. I’ve had three days on them now and today, they finally started softening up. Of course, I’ve been sticking them on boot warmers before I put them on, which I think is also helping…but learning how to best buckle these boots has also been a help. My feet are reluctantly relearning the proper ski form after being able to caper as they please in the other boots. They’ll still need a few more days to reset the bad habits, but…given that we had a huge dump of very nice, crispy snow up on Hood, and that I’m mostly through a lot of my extra paperwork sessions at work…I think I can work in a few ski days before work.

No Palmer this year, though. Not in condition for it, still working through the hip and leg issues as well as the boots.

It was a lovely snowy spring day, as well. Spring snowstorms can be cold and crispy but not as cold as winter–or they can be icy and sloppy and wet. This was a cold and crispy day, which produced nice fresh powder, lighter than our usual stuff. DH and I did three turns on the Jeff Flood runs before bagging out and heading for Norman. Flood was getting hit heavily and chopped up. Norman, on the other hand, was less popular (most folks riding that lift head for the terrain parks, not the run) so it was pretty nice skiing. We got four runs in on Norman, then got our sack lunch and ate in the lodge.

Then we did errands on our way home, chores, and then I finally got into writing. It’s been a while since I’ve been using the laptop instead of the desktop to write, so I pulled the laptop out and sprawled in bed. That ended up being a pretty good place to work so I got a major chunk of my rewrite started. Problem is, this was supposed to be a light edit before we put it up as the first freebie in the Netwalk: Foundations series. It’s a story I wrote sometime around 2000, before I really even knew much about Netwalk, about Kathy Miller. What I wanted to do was throw it out there to show a little bit of writer worldbuilding in process (which is what the Foundations series is going to be about; putting up bits and pieces of the world as I write sketches and stories to share how things fit together).

Four days after I first started, it’s turning into a major rewrite. Some of that is due to changes in the worldbuilding since the story was originally written. After all, I’ve had thirteen years to think about it, off and on. And yet the bones of the Netwalk Sequence are in it, as solid now as they were then.

But it’s not really a commercial story, it’s a worldbuilding story. Ergo, I’m figuring out some character development that will become important in the next piece of the Sequence (family interactions, family interactions, a big chunk of the Sequence rests on the conception that these people form a dynasty based on some significant dysfunctional elements…plus space! Family dysfunction in Spaaaaace!. Just not space quite yet. Getting there).

That said, I’m trying to make it entertaining infodump.

More later as it develops. For now, happy ski girl needs to go crash…to rest up for what looks to be a very busy week.

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Whew. Landing

Various things got resolved today.

Talked out issues of frustration.

And ended up buying new ski boots. It was a gorgeous stormy day at Timberline. Good soft powder, lovely ol’ Cascade concrete, stuff I usually gobble up and enjoy the heck out of.

But I was fighting it and frustrated halfway through my first run down Kruser.

Why?

I had no control over my tips. Or my tails. It felt like my first fighting sessions on skis. It felt wrong. I was breaking into tears halfway down the first run.

“Rent boots,” DH said on our way back up.

“Maybe I just need to warm up,” I said back. I’ve already put money into fixing these damn boots.

We pushed off from the chair, and I ended up falling halfway down a simple baby cat track. Ski popped off, I plopped down. Nothing bad or spectacular this time, just going down.

Rent boots,” DH repeated as I stomped back uphill to retrieve my ski, sinking 18 inches down with each step.

“Damn right I’m renting boots,” I grumbled back.

Long story short, it took a while and trials of two pairs plus a binding release test before I was back on the slope. But it didn’t take but three turns to tell the issue.  The boots I owned were a half size too big–and it was enough to affect my control.  I didn’t like those rental boots–but the difference in effort and control was obvious.

DH and I talked about the possibilities of renting vs buying on the way down the hill. We stopped by the ski shop I prefer because he had a boot issue, and I tried on what they had in my preferred size–a high end version of the boot I didn’t like,  and a beginner boot that the boot fitter looked at me and said “You won’t like it. It’s a beginner boot that is way below what you’re doing now.”

I didn’t like the high end boot any better than the rental, so when we got home, I called two other shops. Long story short, I got new boots for just a little over what it would cost me to rent boots for the rest of this season. It’s a brand I’ve skied before and I like. Problem is, from calling around, I’m in a size that’s fairly popular so there’s not much left at the end of the season. So this should work out well..and it’s from my second favorite local shop.

Yay. Maybe if I can ski again…..

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The joys of spring skiing

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Yeah.  Bluebird Saturday skiing.  A wee bit of wind up on the Mile, but after one run in the icy slopes in the trees, we saw folks going up on the Mile and went for it.  Timberline left the chairs on overnight, so it didn’t take long to get it going.

Temps went from around 26 F to around 40 F by the time we left.  Nice crisp snow though, especially up high on the Mile.  We got in five runs on the Mile, six all told, and probably would have been more except I’m still reteaching my muscles about skiing correctly without flopping around in my boots.

Verdict from today is that the Boot Wars may be on their way to resolution.  I played around with buckle tension, and ended up having good control plus less muscle fatigue–though that clobbered me hard toward the end of our ski day.  The Lange boots are stiffer and more reactive than my old Atomic boots.  But putting in the heel lifts seems to have helped get me just that little bit more forward in the boot, and I’m committing to being more aggressive in manipulating and controlling the boot.  I had good spread in the ball of my feet and what started hanging me up was more in the tightness of the hip flexors rather than the foot flailing around inside the boot.  I even got a bit of spring going in shifting from ski to ski, and when I hit the chopped up, chundered snow I was able to cut right through it instead of wobbling around and fighting.

Now it’s just a question of feet in boots, boots on skis.  Turns on the Mountain.  Building up stamina and strength, retraining muscles out of bad habits.  And rehabbing these damned hips.

Once we were done skiing, we bought tea and coffee and sat on the day lodge’s upstairs deck.IMG_7776

 

 

 

Nice thing to be doing, sitting outside the day lodge on a sunny day, watching other people ski.

Yeah. Gotta love Saturday spring skiing.

Then we came home and my crocus are blooming.  Yay!

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Had time to do some household chores, and then spend some time putting together a unit on Manifest Destiny.  Like the concept, the unit is starting to get pretty grandiose.  Let’s see how many different ways the technology can blow up THIS coming week (last week: laptop showed PowerPoint, document camera would not.  Document camera would independently work.  Next day, different laptop, PowerPoints run just fine…with no sound.  Fix that, can play YouTube videos with sound, and the next day?  Laptop cannot read CD-ROM.  That contains the perfect intro videos for Manifest Destiny.  That are not available on YouTube, and everything else I’ve found so far sucks.  Oy.  There Are Reasons I Still Use Paper Resources).

Oh, and nice quiet ride on horse last night.  More on that another time.

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[email protected][email protected]!! Boots [email protected][email protected]!*>*

So the Boot Wars continue.  Today I rode the Lange Exclusives for the first time in something like four years.

I didn’t die.  Nor did I fall down.

But the experience was…definitely annoying. For one thing, it’s blatantly clear that I’ve picked up some bad foot movement habits from the previous boots.  The feet want to twist and turn in ways they aren’t supposed to twist and turn.  But…the Langes want to throw me into a deeper squat than I find comfortable.  I’m not forward enough and I still have wobble.  That said, I also got the solid feel of a boot that fits and had to spend a lot of time working on scaling down my control, because I was overcontrolling the ski. It was promising, though, to figure out that the foot part probably will work, because that was the problem before.  Now if we can just work on the angles…stopped by the bootfitter and got some heel lifts put in.

Despite the fact that I was working waay too hard, feeling the ol’ thigh burn, and all that good stuff, it was a good ski day.  I took some pictures but not a lot.  Hood itself was clear but the clouds surrounded everything around the Mountain.  There were a couple of moments up on top of the Mile where we spotted Mt. Jefferson, but for the most part, Timberline was a sunny outpost in a sea of clouds.

Damn, I hope I get this boot stuff figured out soon.  I’m tired of fighting my equipment.  I just want to ski….

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