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Older Articles

Double-Header Weekend

Often the spring and the fall months irritate me because it’s too cold to kayak and too warm for cross-country skiing. Other avenues of exercise are pretty much closed to me unless it’s in a gym setting (and our gym burned down last February) so it was exciting when the weather seemed to cooperate to provide one of those rare weekends when

White Pass Nordic Center

White Pass Nordic Center

you can cross-country ski one day and kayak the next. Without, at least, long drives for both.

I had thought that it would be the previous weekend but the track-cat at White Pass (west of Yakima, Washington) had broken down. I pretty much need tracks nowadays. Some people find it unusual that a guy who can’t walk very well can cross-country ski but there is really no mystery. The sport of X/C skiing in tracks on groomed trails is almost zero impact and you get two poles to lean on. There would probably be more disabled people doing it but it never occurs to the sport’s organizers that it’s possible and so sometimes just getting access can be an almost insurmountable hurdle (huge snow berms to clamber over, long walks from parking lots, etc.) Of course for kayaking it’s a cinch for someone who can’t walk. I often need help getting into and (especially) back out of my cockpit but in general I find that I can sit flat on my ass just as well now as I could when I was in my twenties.

So this weekend Michael’s (my son-in-law) dad was here for Thanksgiving and we planned a Saturday x/c ski day. The only possible destination was White Pass. The Washington State Parks Department has had groomed trail snow parks for at least a

Carter (in red) and Ethan in their Carriage ready for X/C Skiing

Carter (in red) and Ethan in their Carriage ready for X/C Skiing

decade but their enthusiasm for funding the grooming part has faded condiserably over the past few years. Their enthusiasm for raising prices has been better than ever, unfortunately. So while the “season” for groomed trails lasts from November 15th onwards, they don’t actually groom them until several weeks later. You can still be cited for not having the pass on your car in the parking lots though. Clever, eh?

None of us had ever skied at White Pass before. It’s a 2.5 hour drive (one way) from our homes in Moses Lake with at least an hour of that on 2-lane mountain roads but we will do practically anything to get that first ski day in. They had fixed their track-cat and their elevation (4500 feet) would keep them cooler in the traditional November warming trend. So we loaded up and headed out for the long drive hoping that the DVD player would keep Ethan (3) and Carter (2) occupied in the far back seat for at least most of the trip.

One nice feature of the Nordic Center at White Pass is that it’s directly across the street from their alpine facility so there would be hot food. The nordic center has a warming yurt of considerable size and comfort but only snacks and some drinks. The trail pass is $12 per person but their season pass rates are quite reasonable (only $100 for a

Ethan Throwing Snowballs at Grampa

Ethan Throwing Snowballs at Grampa

senior). The boys rode free in their chariot pulled by Daddy. They enjoy the trip only if there is movement. Stand still too long and you hear about it. We managed one round of their easiest trail before lunch and one run after lunch. In between eating and skiing the boys played in the white stuff and threw snowballs at Grampa.

The trails were not perfect but given the somewhat icy conditions they were passable. Another couple of feet of snow (and no rain) will help a lot. One great advantage is their RV parking area which is free! Most areas charge for theirs. No utilities but you’re welcome to have a generator. We plan to take Princess up for a long weekend after the new year.

The next day, Sunday, my paddling friend Pam came through town on Sunday with a borrowed Illusion kayak (borrowed from Barb at Kayak Academy near Seattle). Pam has a new Illusion that is about to be delivered soon (which she bought through Kayak Academy) but she was eager to get in some paddle time in the model before her debut in the Deception Pass Dash (a 6-mile race through Deception Pass held every December). We unloaded the Illusion and set it next to my Mariner II for comparison. Two very different kayaks. Pam has been paddling a Mariner Sprite and a Mariner Express for the past few years. The Illusion will make a much different platform.

So we put the boats into the water down at my dock. I clambered across the rocky beach and into my M-II while Pam did a daredevil entry from the swim ladder into the Illusion. We paddled south under the I-90 freeway and kept up a brisk pace past the

Mariner II (left) and the Illusion... Two Very Different Kayaks

Mariner II (left) and the Illusion... Two Very Different Kayaks

grass island (detouring around the camouflaged duck hunters’ boat) down to lighthouse reef. The wind was about 11kts from the south and I remarked that it would make it nice going back so we could surf a little. I should know better than to say – or even think – those things because the wind died completely just about the time we got to the reef.

We played around the rocky islets in the dead-calm water for a bit and I showed Pam the roosting grounds for the Blue Herons that live in the area and then we turned to head back. Often we can paddle along the docks and one or two will come down to bark at us to get us to come pet them. This was not one of those days. We kept up a good pace back to my home dock where Pam did a few rolls in the Illusion (in 34F water!). That boat certainly rolls easily, I must say.

By this time, and only after a couple of miles, I was tired out. I was in the first stages of a bad cold that only got worse over that day and thenext. Karma for having a double header weekend I guess. We loaded Pam up and she continued east to where she would be working for the next week and I went to the sofa for a nap.

Getting old isn’t easy… but it beats the heck out of dying young! Besides, I would have hated to miss this double header weekend.

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