Monday, March 17, 2014

Skiing Coast to Coast or 6 Days on the Road and I’m Going to Ski at Home Tonight

By Aims Coney

My daughter Katie is moving to the Seattle area and I volunteered to help drive her car cross county. I always wanted to make that trip and this seemed like a good chance. Originally anticipated as a July journey instead it happened the first week of March, right in the meat of ski season. I suggested, almost half joking, that we try to ski in every state we passed through and was surprised when she took me seriously and agreed.

The idea was to find parks as close to Interstate 90 as possible since we had only six days to make the trip. I gave us a bye on New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio since we’d skied in those states already.

Day 1- March 5, Stow, Massachusetts to Hudson, Ohio
Pine Bluffs, Stow, Massachusetts- I skied waxless in my backyard and the woods behind by headlight at 5:15AM to be sure I had some snow time that day. I didn’t want to risk my 96-day streak.
Country Club of Hudson, Ohio- A bonus! We arrived at my sister Nancy’s before dinner and in daylight. I skated 30 minutes on silky powder all around the golf course. Ecstasy. Dinner was excellent too.

Day 2- March 6, Hudson, Ohio to Madison, Wisconsin
St Patricks County Park, State Line, Indiana and Bertrand County Park, Bertrand, Michigan- A two-state ski! Abutting parks straddle the border right off I-90. Found this place on the satellite maps and noticed that huge trees spelled St Patrick from the air but were not even noticeable on the ground. And we were surprised to find that the Michigan side was track-groomed.

Saint Patrick’s and Bertand County Parks from a satellite

Deer Grove Reservation, Palantine, Illinois- West of Chicago we skated on packed powder at this little gem. It was 12 minutes from I-90 but worth the detour. Thank you Meg Ewen of the Northwest Nordic Ski Club for the suggestion.

Day 3- March 7, Madison Wisconsin to Kadoka, South Dakota
Yahana Hills, Madison, Wisconsin- Skated on a nicely groomed large figure-8 loop and watched the sun rise.
Hormel Nature Center, Austin, Minnesota- Found this place right off I-90 from the satellite map and were surprised to find it tracked and skate groomed.
Sunset through the windshield in South Dakota

Day 4- March 8, Kadoka, South Dakota to Bozeman, Montana
Roubaix Lake Campground, South Dakota- Skated on a snowmobile trail. South Dakota looked like a bust, just bare ground from the border west. We took our one side-trip of the journey to Mount Rushmore and sure enough found snow in the Black Hills National Forest.
Reuter Trailhead, near Sundance Wyoming- More bare ground along the interstate but a short trip to higher ground near found us snow. We went waxless uphill on a snowmobile trail for 30 minutes then zoomed down in a jiffy.

Day 5- March 9, Bozeman, Montana to Ellensburg, Washington
East Galitin River Trail, Bozeman, Montana- Forgot about the time change so it was really dark when I got up. Zipped by headlight on skate skis around some narrow, icy, twisty foot trails then found myself on a golf course with a groomed skate lane. Got back to the motel, still in the dark.
Rattlesnake Wilderness, Missoula, Montana- Was told by the info booth at Mount Rushmore not to miss this place. Turned out though that the forest service had plowed the first ¼ mile but after that it was nice waxless skiing in a valley between steep mountainsides.
4th of July Pass, Idaho- The rained poured hard in Idaho but let up just was we hit the parking lot at the pass. Skied waxless on a woods road climbing up from the pass that had been groomed by the Panhandle Nordic Club, just not recently.

Day 6- March 10, Ellensburg, Washington to Bremerton, Washington
Cabin Creek, Snoqualmie Pass, Washington- Nice skating on a wonderful, groomed roller-coaster loop. We could have finished our trip the day before but spent an extra night on the road so we could ski this one in the morning. A tip of the hat to old friend Chris Sherwood for identifying the site.
Mission accomplished, 3000 miles, 12 tanks of gas, 10 new states skied and a sweet week of father-daughter time.

Day 7- March 11, (Epilogue) Bremerton, Washington to Stow, Massachusetts by airplane
Watched I-90 out the window, gliding by 5 miles below, 1 hour in the air for every day on the road.
Pine Bluffs, Stow, Massachusetts
Skied waxless by headlight at 11:44 PM to preserve my now 103-day streak. The tracks looked just the same as 7 days before, as if I never left.

Date      Where                                       Start           End            Style         Region
5-Mar   Pine Bluffs                                 5:15 AM    5:29 AM    Waxless    Home Stow, Mass
5-Mar   Country Club of Hudson            6:26 PM    6:54 PM     Skate        Ohio
6-Mar   Saint Patricks&Bertrand Parks  11:21 AM  12:06 PM    Waxless    Indiana & Michigan
6-Mar    Deer Grove                              4:26 PM     4:51 PM     Skate       Illinois
7-Mar    Yahana Hills                             6:20 PM     6:51 PM     Skate        Wisconsin
7-Mar    Hormel Nature Center              11:20 AM  12:05 PM    Skate       Minnesota
8-Mar    Roubaix Lake                           10:49 AM  11:16 AM   Skate       South Dakota
8-Mar    Reuter Trailhed                         12:37 PM   1:12 PM     Waxless   Wyoming
9-Mar    East Galitin River Trail               6:37 AM    7:02 AM    Skate        Montana
9-Mar    Rattlesnake Wilderness             10:48 AM  11:18 AM   Waxless    Montana
9-Mar    4th of July Pass                         1:19 PM    2:16 PM     Waxless    Idaho
10-Mar  Cabin Creek                             7:48 AM   9:01 AM     Skate       Washington
11-Mar  Pine Bluffs                                 11:44 PM  11:59 PM   Waxless    Home Stow, Mass

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