133: More from the woods plus storm update

(In the woods at Wilderness Lodge resort.)

I know I wrote that I would tell you about Monday.  And I will.  But as I was sorting through the next batch of photos from our second trip around the ski trails on Sunday, I realized that I hadn’t even gotten to the best part.  One of the reasons we decided to take up cross-country skiing was to be able to go deep into the woods faster and with less effort than walking through deep snow.  Had we been walking on Sunday, we never would have made it as far back into the woods as we went.  Not just because of the difficulty in trekking through deep snow.  You are not allowed to walk on the ski trails at Wilderness Lodge.  It ruins them for skiing.  (Reminder:  You can click on any of the photos to see the slightly larger version.)

As I show you some photos from that portion of our ski adventures, I’ll tell you a little about yesterday’s outdoor walk.  I was wrong about the sleet.  Or at least partially wrong.  There must have been some freezing rain as there was a coating of ice on everything.  I took some photos, but the ice doesn’t show up well because the coating was so thin and the lighting was so terrible.  It was dark and gloomy, the way it looks before a big storm.

(M, way ahead of me on the trail.)

A red-tailed hawk was flying overhead, making a big racket.  Perhaps he was warning the rest of the critters about the incoming storm.

(I love the way the trees form an archway.  That’s M up ahead.)

I started this post on Tuesday, by the way.  I decided it to get it ready to auto-post in case of a power outage.  While I am not such a perfectionist that I’ll be upset if I miss a post due to an act of Mother Nature, I had the time so I thought I might as well get a post ready.  Just in case.

Getting back to yesterday’s walk, the temperature was a little warmer than we experienced during our skiing adventures but felt colder.  I don’t know if that’s due to the coating of ice or if it just felt that way because of the gloominess.  The snow was crunchy and most of the time I was able to walk on top of it rather than sink in as usual.

(Going back to the lodge.)

Thus ends our first skiing adventure (and yesterday’s outdoor walk).  I’ll be back with Monday’s winter fun on Thursday or whenever the power comes back on if there is an outage.  (I have an auto-post for that, too.  I am so organized.  lol!)

(Admiring the icicles after skiing on Sunday.)

Today

We still have power this morning so I’m going to get this updated and posted.  When we went to bed last night the sleet was coming down pretty heavily.  At some point it changed over to rain.  I woke up once thinking the spring rains were upon us, complete with a rumble of thunder.  Then I realized it could be freezing rain and all the happy thoughts of spring were banished for the moment.

Around 4:30am there was quite a bit of crashing going on.  I thought it might be snow and ice sliding off the roof.  Now I’m not so sure.  There are plenty of tree limbs on the ground this morning so it may have been the trees complaining about the wind which had picked up considerably.

I am just back from today’s walk and lemme tell ya, it is brutal out there.  Seriously brutal.  We have sustained winds of 22 mph, gusting to up to 35 mph.  There is a mixture of snow and sleet pummeling us right now, causing white-out conditions.  I could barely see when I was out there trying to refill the bird feeder.  Both the wind and the sleet-snow mixture sting any exposed skin.  It is currently 32°F but feels like 19°F.  The temperature is steadily dropping as the morning progresses.  We should be down into the 20s by noon, and somewhere around 10°F tonight.

I took the camera (under my coat) but did not take any photos.  I would like to have captured some of the strange looking ice formations on the shrubs.  Maybe later. I’ve been known to take risks with the camera but this was too much, even for me.  The wind and sleet-snow combination would not have been good for the camera, much less picture-taking.


132: Storm Watch

(On the road to the Wilderness Lodge.)

I’m going to try to get my post published early today.  I have a lot to do so we’ll see how it goes.  The weather folks have been yammering on about The Big Winter Storm for the past several days.  Round One came through last night and early this morning.  The sound of it woke me up around 2:30am.  I couldn’t figure out what it was at first.  It was a whooshing, shooshing, tinkling sound.  I finally got up to look out the patio door.  Being dark outside, I didn’t see much so I opened the door and realized some sort of frozen precipitation was falling.  Whether it was sleet or freezing rain, I’m not sure.   Very likely sleet from the sounds of it and the way things looked this morning.

(Still making our way to the lodge.)

In case you don’t know the difference, sleet is snow that melts in the sky and refreezes before hitting the ground.  It’s a lot like hail.  Freezing rain, a condition MUCH worse, is snow that melts and doesn’t refreeze until it hits a cold surface (when the temperature on the ground is below 32°F), causing a glaze of ice to cover everything.  This usually results in limbs falling off trees and power outages, not to mention (but I will anyhow) slick surfaces.

(It’s a wonder we got there at all since I had to keep stopping to take pictures.)

Round Two of the The Big Winter Storm is expected to arrive this evening in the form of freezing rain.  If all goes as predicted, that could mean a power outage which also means no water as well as no heat.  To get ready for that, I’ll be filling up pitchers, bottles, and the tub with water so we can cook, drink, wash up, brush our teeth, and flush the toilets.  (When the pond isn’t frozen, we can use pond water for that last purpose.)  Cooking can be accomplished on the gas stovetop since we don’t need electricity for that.  M will be hauling in firewood for heating purposes.

I also have to get outside for my daily adventure and feed the birds.

The Weekend Ski Trip

(The check-in place at Wilderness Lodge.)

As stated in a previous post, M and I made our way over to a ski resort (The Wilderness Lodge) in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning.  I don’t think we could have timed it any better.  The fresh snow we’d had overnight had been cleared from the roads, and it provided wonderful cross-country skiing conditions for us.  When we checked in the woman who took our money and gave us our ski passes mentioned that the forecast had been for an inch of snow and they got about seven inches instead.   With everything covered in snow, it sure was a beautiful ride.

(First look at the ski trail on the west side.)

After checking in and before putting on our skis, I took a couple of photos.  Then I put the camera away.  Not being familiar with the trails, and not being confident enough on skis to take it along, it seemed a good idea.  M and I decided to stay on the west side trails, behind the lodge, because (we were informed) those would be the easiest trails for beginners.  Even the intermediate trails were not too bad and we were able to handle them.

(Outside of the lodge.)

After about an hour of skiing, we went to the lodge for some lunch.  I did not bring my camera with me inside the lodge.  I wish I had.  It was a very winter skiing type of atmosphere.  Nothing fancy.  There was a roaring fire in a round fireplace as you enter the eating area where people put their gloves and mittens to dry out while they warmed up.

We had a delicious meal (soup and sandwiches) along with some hot tea.  We decided to stay away from the bar, the beer, and the wine since we were going back out for some more fun in the snow.  After refueling our bodies, we bundled up again for another round of skiing.

(My skis.)

This is where things got a little risky.  I decided to take the camera.  I put it under my coat and hoped for the best.  If we had decided to try different trails, I would not have taken it.  But we did okay on our first time around the beginner and intermediate trails so I thought I could risk it.

(Starting out.)

I didn’t remember the first and biggest downhill portion as being as long as it was.  I suspect that’s because I took it very slowly the first time around.  As I was going down the second time, I wondered where the big hill had come from.  About three-fourths of the way down my skis crossed and I went flying forward, crashing into the snow.  Thank goodness I managed to land in such a way that both the camera and my body were fine.

There were plenty of people out and about but most of the time M and I had the trails to ourselves.  Of course that wasn’t the case when I fell.  There was a group of about six people coming the other way to witness it.

With the fall out of the way, and being none the worse for it, I was able to carry on without the nervousness that initially plagued me and have some fun skiing and taking photos.  It was so beautiful back in the woods that I really wanted to be able to capture some of it.  I’m glad I took the risk.

(Hillocks, or mounds, in the snow.)

It was also remarkably quiet in the woods.  It was so quiet that when we stopped to listen, all we could hear were our own inhalations, exhalations, and heartbeats in between the occasional whoosh of snow as piles of it, large and small, fell from the trees.

(Small hills and curves.)

It took us a little longer to go around the loop the second time.  We avoided the trail marked “cardiac hill” except to stop and take a photo of M looking as though he just finished coming up the hill.  By the time we finished we were both thoroughly and wonderfully exhausted.

The Wilderness Lodge is about 40-50 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania which is where we went next to spend the night at a hotel there.  We had a lovely dinner at a pub near our hotel and then, being so worn out, we crashed around 9pm.  That worked out well as we were up bright and early on Monday for our next adventure.  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow (or until the power comes back on if we have an outage) for the rest of the story.

It’s time for me to head outside to deal with some chores, storm preparation, and meet my daily commitment.  If anything of interest happens, I’ll be sure to come back and update this post.  (I don’t really expect that will be necessary.)


131: Winter fun

I woke up very early on Sunday morning to a winter wonderland.  The overnight forecast was for a light dusting of snow.  As usual, the meteorologists got it wrong and we had a few inches of fresh powder.  What made it more remarkable than previous snows is that it was the kind of snow that sticks to everything so the trees were all covered in what looked like confectioner’s sugar.  It was a beautiful sight.

I had hoped to go out and take a few photos but didn’t find the time.  M and I, a few days before, had decided to pack up our skis and boots and check out the cross-country ski trails at a Nordic ski resort in Pennsylvania.  We had no idea at the time of the amount of fresh snow Mother Nature would provide.

It looked like this when we started out:

(Traveling behind the De-Icer on I-76)

And stopped along the way to find things had changed a bit:

(Rest stop on I-79)

But found we had really entered different territory when started along this road:

(Weeks Valley Road, Wattsburg, Pennsylvania)

I am so thoroughly, utterly exhausted (gotta find a better word for that so I can avoid the adverbs) that you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the details.

It was an extraordinary adventure.  I saw things I have never seen before.  And I saw myself in ways I’ve never seen before.  Best of all, M and I got to share all this newness together.  It sometimes amazes me that after all this time we still manage to keep things new, as if we’re just starting out on our adventure together.

On that romantic note, I am signing off for the night.  See you tomorrow.  (And for those who asked/wondered…  There WILL be snow.)


117: Amazing day

(Ski tracks through the woods.)

This is the kind of day that makes me think I love winter.  M and I went to the Pine Lodge Ski Center at Chapin Forest Reservation for our cross-country ski lesson.  The instructor was wonderful and brutal.  Wonderful in that she seemed to figure out quickly what we needed to learn and how we needed to learn it.  Brutal in that she kept us going for pretty much the entire 90-minute lesson.  I guess she figured we could handle it.

I might not be able to walk again for at least a week.  lol!

Brutal, also, in that she kept making us work our way up a hill so we could learn how to come down it.  In the end, this tackled my fear of going downhill, which was probably her ulterior motive.  Hehehe.  I did tell her I worried about going downhill because I didn’t know how to stop or control my speed (and it always seemed to me that the downhill part ought to be the fun part!).  By the third trip down I was feeling okay about it.  What clinched it for me was when we were on a more gentle downslope later on and I slipped out of the ski tracks, slid across the path, and managed to stop myself without panic or having to think about it too much.

Yep.  We had a great teacher.  We also had a lot of fun and I am so glad we decided on taking a lesson.  I think it will make a world of difference for me.  M seemed pretty confident already.

We worked up quite a sweat.  Even so, we weren’t finished after our lesson.  We decided to head over to Holden Arboretum so M could check out their ski trails and I could hike around for a bit, camera in hand, to take some winter photos.  I took plenty but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see them.  I hiked a mile or so in the deep snow.  Add that to the skiing, and you get one exhausted Robin.  (Oh, we saw a flock of robins today, too!)  I’m trying to get this post up fast so I can put my feet up and rest for the remainder of the evening.  (Note to self:  No more digressing!  You can write all about this tomorrow!)

After arriving home two red foxes ran into the yard and we watched them for a while.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good view of a fox, especially in the wild.  I did attempt to take some photos and this is the best of the lot (don’t get your hopes up):

There was a screen on the window, it was past sunset, and by the time I grabbed the camera both foxes were on the move again.  But I think you can tell from the coloring and bushy tail that it’s a fox.

Pretty amazing, really.  The whole day.  🙂