I was driving into work (yes, driving – my poor bicycle must feel like a neglected pet) grooving to Bob Marley’s “Is This Love“, and fell into a daydream about the second of two summer trips Adam and I are planning… A week-long bicycle tour of Kodiak Island, AK.
I had the opportunity to visit Kodiak for 24 hours last year, and it was cool. Even on a blustery February day the island radiated a sense of community and place that one doesn’t feel in Anchorage’s urban center. When Adam said he wanted to visit this year, and we discovered flights are cheap with Alaska Airlines miles – done, and done!
We’re in the early stages of planning still, but excited nonetheless to pack up our bicycles for a tour of Kodiak’s ~ 40 miles of roads. Besides the brewery we’re planning to camp, fish, hike, and bike some more. Can’t wait!
It’s Thursday night, and on a whim our friend and his son are over for dinner. We’re sitting around the table discussing “intensives”. This time, it’s a baptism-by-fire ski program for elementary aged kids – two weeks of daily skiing at Alyeska resort. Lessons, free ski, lunch in the day lodge.
Anyway, we’re chatting about this program and the parental participation when it shifts: fresh powder at the resort… ski pass up for grabs… space in the truck… Want to join? The corners of my mouth literally lifted up like a Grinch smile (except without the sinister association). Quick eval of work load, coordinating a pair of skis with an AT setup (more on that later), agreeing on the ungodly hour that I needed to be ready and boom.
Friday found me, like:
I had spent a week in Girdwood over the holidays with my backcountry setup, nordic setup, running shoes, and a sledding tube. I didn’t touch any of them, once. The conditions have been good/bad/fine all season, and I haven’t gone skiing, once. Oof. I liken the feeling of making your first turns to working out the fascia of your body, or removing that clear plastic off the top of your brand new greek yogurt (you know the one I mean). They’re both invisible, under the covers, and barriers to entry of good food and/or movement… But once you break the seal, crackle the fascia, and click your heels in… Oo la la, it’s wonderful.
With all that good mojo and the seal broken, a girl’s just got to keep it moving. Saturday was Ladies Ski day, and a girlfriend and I hightailed it up to Hatcher Pass for a backcountry tour.
Back to the AT setup: for the past 4 years or so I’ve been skiing with a telemark setup. Which is very cool in theory, but in practice I’m not comfortable with the unlocked heel and am not getting better as a skier. I want to be a better skier, and ski more, so my wonderful sister-in-law lent me her AT setup so I could give it a shot. In just two days of skiing, it was incredible the difference in my technique – add new bindings and boots to my 2018 Gear Wishlist.
And a word to the wise (or dingbats like me), figure out how to use your gear before you are standing in the parking lot. My ski partner and I took an extra 10-15 minutes trying to figure out how to put the Dynafits into touring mode, looking at the internet, beating it like monkeys, and laughing hard before we figured it out. After all that, I missed the crucial step of locking in my toe and kicked off both skis 1-3 times each on the skin up. What is this, amateur hour?
The snow was good, save for a little wind crust here and there. We trucked up our usual route, calling it at the first bench and switching over for the run out. It was a gray day and our run was monochromatic, but who even cares? On Ladies Ski Day you go as fast or slow as you want, talk as much or as little as you want, and laugh as hard as you can. We accomplished all of those things.
With the seal broken, a renewed excitement for skiing (seriously, I need to replace my bindings stat), and eight weeks left until marathon training kicks off – my stoke level is high and I want to get after it!
Through some click-path on the Internet, I was introduced to Great Old Broads, a national advocacy group made up of women of a “mature” age.
Their membership stretches across the U.S., although not all states have active “Broadband” chapters, Alaska being one. These women understand representation matters, and the great outdoors is and should be a welcoming place for people of all ages (and colors, and genders). They’ve organized to the place of ~8,000 members, and their website lists clear statements on outdoor issues they care about, including climate change and resource extraction.
It’s awesome to see another group coalesced around a passion for wild places. And Great Old Broads gives me something to look forward to: a network of like-minded women for the rest of my adventurous life (and, the potential to keep planning and doing by getting an AK chapter off the ground some day!).