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Skinning up Mt. Hyak
posted by John : December 20, 2015

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Over the river and through the woods

A year ago, when I last put on skis, I came to the conclusion that I should continue to develop my skiing skills (or lack thereof) and that I should do wall sits to build up my quads so I would cry less. Unfortunately, just after that trip in early December 2014 it started raining and the snow disappeared completely. As a result, I did neither.

Now it's dumping and all my hiking buddies have become skiing buddies. I conned KC and Matt into taking me skiing again. On snowshoes, there's a great route called the Nordic Pass Trail that winds through the woods to Hyak Lake. I've heard repeatedly that anything you can do on snowshoes you can do on skis so why not?

Well, it turns out crossing creeks is a little dicier on skis. At least for me. I cheated and took them off. Then I sank up to my crotch.

But, once we were on the other side of the creek floatation wasn't a problem. Skis have a huge surface area. We made decent time, though following the route was a little less straightforward than when there's an established trench. By the time we crossed a groomed road we were done with the powder in the woods. Instead of continuing on to Hyak Lake we followed the road up the groomed runs toward the summit of Mt. Hyak.

For me, the easy part was over. Now we were set to ski down. My one past experience had shown me that climbing was about the same effort whether on skis or snowshoes. However, managing the downhill was far harder. Given the effortless way skiers breeze down the mountain this was really frustrating.

We, thankfully, headed down one of the easier routes. I found I was able to stay in control with pizzas, french fries, and the occasional hockey stop when I was doing well. My thighs, though... my thighs.

I like to think my legs are pretty strong. I've got good stamina when hiking. I can carry decent loads up steep hills. But I can't ski down a groomed run without stopping repeatedly. Ouch.

When we finally made it to the base my legs were jello. I could hardly stand. As quick as I could I kicked off the skis, loosened my boots, and started the slow walk back to the truck.

Once again, I'll state that I need to get better at skiing and I need to strengthen my thighs. Or... I need to try it on snowshoes next time.

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