The lake effect machine had dumped a good amount of snow in Niagara County during the week then a weather front brought frigid temperatures, complete with wind chills around minus-30. It was so cold, the Lockport Y10, a 10-mile race in my hometown, was postponed. Seriously. That never happens here, folks. In the span of three days we had an entire winter.
But Monday brought a warm-up and a holiday for Scott which meant the opportunity for a day-late Valentine’s celebration on skis. Previously, I had only been on skis once — a bunny slope free introduction at Kissing Bridge. It was fun but I wasn’t too eager to try an actual slope. (I mean couldn’t I just keep doing the bunny slope the drink hot chocolate? Even when I bike, the speed of the downhill scares me so much I try to get as big and broad as possible and continuously feather my brakes.) But Scott was pretty confident I’d like cross country skiing so bought me skis and poles and boots for Christmas. We went once to Reinstien, my introduction to Nordic skiing, and I loved it. I was eager for an opportunity to go again.
We headed to Bond Lake. This is a park of my youth, one of the places my dad would bring me to walk in the woods. I rediscovered it a few years ago while training for a trail marathon. I kept returning thanks to the runners of Bond Lake Athletic Club who run the roads (and sometimes the trails) and provide friendly faces and plenty of encouragement on Saturday mornings.
But back to the snow.
I was unsure of the exact trail layout, especially covered in snow, so we parked by the lake and headed into the woods from there. The trails were groomed and we slid along, starting in the woods, emerging into meadows then along the side of an abandoned orchard.
Let the record show I wasn’t very good. I was still getting the hang of things, like negotiating turns and keeping myself vertical. Luckily, my pace was on par with Scott’s. We toured around on skis to look at things, to be outside and to share things we love with each other.
At one point we saw a robin. Then another. Still another. A huge flock was flying from the woods to the edge of meadow. “It’s not spring yet,” Scott said to them. Poor birds. A snowstorm was coming later that night. They wouldn’t find any worms after that.
Scott has wilderness knowledge. He can identify trees and birds and I think he’s finally taught me how to spot the bark of a red oak. Then we saw bluebirds — a rare treat — and a downy woodpecker.
The snow and the trail seemed perfect. We climbed to the edge of a ridge through the forest and skied along the top edge of the meadow. There were some gradual downhills and I took the momentum — gliding, keeping my knees bent, and staying upright. The biggest moment came when the path turned to the left — a downhill curve! I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I gained speed and stayed up and was excited and impressed with myself all at the same time.
This was a new way for me to see a very familiar park and how lovely it was. It also provided me another chance to learn a new skill. I had never been cross country skiing before this winter. Why would I expect myself to instantly be great at it? Not only do I have another option for getting on the trails and being outside in winter, but cross country skiing has given me the opportunity to practice being patient with myself and to revel in the joy of the moment.
Date: Feb. 15, 2016
Location: Bond Lake
Total distance: 2.78 miles
Elevation: 63 feet
Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Weather: Cloudy, some sun, 23 degrees, light wind
Hiked with: Skied with Scott