One sunny day in New Zealand we put on lots of sunblock, grabbed our skate skis and headed for the hills. We headed for the farthest-out point on the Snowfarm trail system, paralleling the groomed trail to stay out where the perfectly-smooth crust hadn’t been defaced by the groomer. Soon we were out in the backcountry, climbing steadily up rolling white hills of crust. It was an almost hour-long climb, steep at times, and my legs were still sore to the touch from a hike a few days before, but the draw of “the top” was irresistible.
Soon we were at the top of Mt. Pisa, with a 360 degree view that made me want to shout and sing and dance a little jig on my skis! But instead I just ate some cookie and then took off. Now we were in a playground of perfect rolling white hills studded with huge outlandish rock outcroppings. You could ski anywhere (except preferably not off the cliffs to the east), and you could go FAST. There were endless interesting rocks to circumnavigate, natural jumps to test out, and perfect lines to take. Over every hill was another smooth white hill. I decided that if there were a heaven, this is what it would be like! This was nordic skiing in it’s purest form–no grooming or trails necessary, and no better way to travel than on a pair of skate skis.
After 3 hours of this tomfoolery, we had used up our cookie supply and our water supply, and started the cruise back down off of the ridge. The sun had softened the crust to make for perfect turning conditions, and I pretended I was in a slalom race. Soon we hit a trail, and begrudgingly headed back to civilization. I’m pretty sure it was the best ski of my life.
These days, my transition back to Pepa’s regimented training plan is going about as would be expected. She says that I have to do lots of extra speed and strength work to catch up, and I know she’s right. But thats fine with me–it was totally worth getting a bit behind to remind myself of why I love to ski!