Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All In A Week

1. Daily office dog. Four frequent the office at different times. This is 4 mo. old Daisy.  2. Friday Night Mountain Top Supper Club - fancy with a candle and tablecloth for Italian night!  3. Note all the zippers and associated layers necessary to survive -19°F prior to windchill calculations.  4. I ended up being "head feathers" / "hill chief" for an hour on Saturday; this means I directed ski patrollers around the mountain to respond to certain incidents and kept track of folks.  5. But most of the time I was skiing Saturday because it DUMPED 16" of snow in <24 hours. Epic, epic, epic powder day!  6. Cards Against Humanity for Saturday night shift.  7. The Man Angel salute; this is my second family getting post-work aprés-ski beers.  8. So humble it hurts <3  9. Kenai living a rough life.  10. A series of screenshots from snaps I sent to Mandy and Saiph: "My car wasn't enough to get to the house"/"Beer is almost gone"/"Kenai and I are growing bored"  11. Shoveling through the 4' of snow on the porch.  12. Begging for treats.  13. Balance exercises at work.  14. The rough life of our office pet, Ralphie.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Best Laid Plans...err Thoughts

I'd had this grand thought plan in place that I would ride after work yesterday. The sun was going to be out by mid-late afternoon and I haven't ridden since my birthday, so riding seemed a good idea, no?

But then I got to the barn. The 16" of snow we received through last week and weekend has compressed to 12-14" of something resembling a consistency of styrofoam with a nice layer of ice atop. It's the kind of snow that gives you hope you'll be able to walk on top but then gives way and sends your leg crashing through at the last minute. Hmm. Lovely.

The horses were moving about the field slowly. The herd had created certain key paths to the resources they desired, and very few independent tracks branched away from them. It's very telling when the herd won't run amok and play much due to the ground cover!

The icy crust coupled with the last minute plunge of foot and leg into a post hole in the snow seemed a recipe for disaster as far as a conditioning ride went. Tweaked tendons and lacerations to sensitive skin from hard ice seemed a certainty! And thus, I scrapped my hopes of riding. The risk of injury simply isn't worth it.

The forecast doesn't warm much for the next week. It seems we'll be in a cycle of quasi-warm (enough to slightly soften/melt the snow) followed by intense cold for many days. It's the perfect recipe for further condensing the snowfall and then freezing it almost-solid! Bullet proof skiing, but crap-tastic riding weather when you need good footing across varied terrain.

I'm midwest bound for work next week. Perhaps I'll come home to bare earth? Perhaps not.

What does this mean for my best laid ride season plans?

Well, it means that I'm not going to stress myself or Q out to be fit enough to tackle a 50 at the end of April. It'll be mid-March at best when the grand thaw begins and conditioning rides can evolve into some semblance of consistency.  That gives me 4-5 weeks of potential for conditioning rides preceding No Frills at the end of April.

Could Q be ready for a 50? Maybe. Perhaps. Arab physio being what it is and whatsuch. Do I care to roll the die and test the waters and risk pushing this little mare too hard too soon after I've spent a whole season building up her confidence? No. No, I don't.

If crazy happens and things are going super awesome then mayhaps we'll try for the No Frills 50. However, I'm not going to shove myself into that cookie cutter when things may not fit. As things are, the LD looks far more attractive an opportunity at this time. It'll be better for Q's mental game, will play easily into where her fitness level is, and will keep our conditioning where it needs to be  - quite stress-free.

If we do the LD, I know I won't be pushing my little mare near or beyond her breaking point physically or mentally. It'll just be another building ride for her physical fitness and mental confidence.

Last year was such a bust for us mentally. She and I both experienced huge mental setbacks, hers due directly because of mine own.

My biggest goals for this year for myself and the horses are health and happiness. I'm more than happy to set aside any other goals within endurance to keep my horse in a better mental place right now. I think the LD in April may be just what is needed to help bolster her for a few 50s later in the year. Time will tell...the Universe certainly seems to be hinting at it pretty hard given the forecast I've been presented with that bars me from safely riding for a time! I'm much more keen on paying mind to the Universe, too, last year being what it was. ;-)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

All in a Week (or Two)

1. Myth: All off leash huskies run away.  2. Q's got the biggest, softest eye.  3. Love having my best friend come to the office with me.  4. Ridgetop sunrise on a ski day.  5. Heckling with the best of the Breakfast Club.  6. Par for the course.  7. Sunset at the end of the ski day...onward to night shift!  8. Yoga evenings.  9. Selfie after we both ate shit simultaneously on a gnarly trail...under the lift...with customers. We laughed so hard that folks accused us of having too much fun.  10. The Valley floor, just visible during light snowfall.  11. Shotty visibility during the intense snowfall event Saturday night. 2" per hour for 3 hours!  12. Sunday morning weather.  13. Didn't need to use that door anyway.  14. Tracks along the pipeline to Bald Knob.  15. View of Canaan Valley Ski Resort from the top of Bald Knob.  16. View out the café window post backcountry ski!  17. A successful score of a hitchhiked ride home.  18. Superb company at sunset of a cold backcountry ski day.  19. I don't even remember what a clear, dry road is any more.  20. Grilling inside. Booya.  21. Q's snakey bitch face.  22. Grilling oysters, clams, and local beef on top of the mountain on a powder day - the rough life of ski patrol!  23. Sunset view across the bogs of Canaan Valley during an evening XC ski.  24. The husky telling me it is ridiculous that he should have to remain indoors during such a snow event.  25. The hacking of Griffin's mane for a second year in a row.  26. Birthday jaunt on Q-mare in the snow!  27. Sunshine!  28. He couldn't possibly be any cuter. <3  29. Whiteout blizzard conditions during my birthday hack on Griffin (only 30 minutes after my ride on Q).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sun, Snow, and Skiing

We got snow. And then some more. And then some more. And even more is expected. It's bottomless. It's awesome. And despite below zero temps and windchills, the skiing is the best it has been all year. I've been front country, side country, and back country, alpine and nordic, heavy and light gear over the last few days. My front yard currently has a 3½ foot drift in it that promises to reach 4 feet if things continue!

My Thursday and Friday went just about exactly as I'd described them in my last post. Saturday night it hammered down the snow in a wicked way starting about 4p. It put down 6" in 3 hours time, the winds whipped, and chaos reigned. I was pretty happy to not have to drive 35 miles over five mountains to get back home! Temperatures plummeted to well below zero, the "real feel" dropping below -40°F due to wicked winds. Yet despite it all, the sun was shining Sunday.

So, because I'm crazy - a fact that shouldn't be lost on long-time readers - I skied in the bitter cold. Front country and side country at one of the mountains I work at for a few hours, and then we spurred off through the woods into some backcountry.

It. Was. Fabulous. I finally got to ski Bald Knob as I've wanted to do for years - so totally worth it. But what was better? Bombing down through some backcountry with my downhill gear on trails 5' to 25' in width - the widest of which didn't occur until the very end and only for a couple hundred yards. Zipping through the woods, dropping knees and flying past surprised nordic skiers on light gear was stellar!

At the bottom, a perma-grin adorned my face. The ski didn't cease at the bottom of just any hill, oh no. It ceased at Whitegrass - a nordic ski phenomena of the east. Through the doors of the barn-esque building, you'll find not only a rental and gear shop, but some of the greatest food around. And beer. I indulged on some good brews and food before scoring a quasi-hitchhiked ride back to my car with one of the owner's sons. What. A. Day.


And for inquiring minds, the horses are well; they're happily enjoying their time off during this arctic front of chaos. My time is so focused toward skiing, but it is okay - working the horses in such bitter cold isn't ideal. I am so very hesitant to provide an opportunity for them to get over-worked and sweaty right now due to the extreme winds and temperatures. It was -40°F and below the other night with the winds; whiteout blizzard conditions. Despite being inside the barn, those temps are nothing to bat an eye at! I will ride when I can, but the season dictates skiing right now, so I'm gonna get it while it's good!