Posts from November 2016

My First Ski of the Season
Posted November 26, 2016

I'm attending the Professional Ski Instructors XC Academy is West Yellowstone this week. I left home early enough this morning so I could arrive in West Yellowstone early enough to get in some skiing, my first of the season. It was clear and warm when I left home. Driving along the Rocky Mountain Front, then over to Helena, Three Forks and Belgrade there was no snow to be seen. Even the trip south through the Gallatin Canyon, past Big Sky and through the west edge of Yellowstone National Park there was little to no snow. I began to wonder what I'd be skiing on this week.

Ahh! Arriving at West there was snow! And I was smiling.

The snow was well groomed but the many skiers resulted in the trail being pretty firm. The set track was definitely very packed powder or glazed. So I decided to use my brand new Atomic SkinTec skis. I found them really superb in those conditions. Waxing might have been a challenge as the temperature was 39 F and the track frequently glazed. The SkinTecs provided nice grip and, to my surprise, I had plenty of glide. Thanks LaNora for selecting these nice skis for me.

I'll be skiing in West Yellowstone the rest of the week. The forecast calls for some additional snow so skiing should be fun.

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Preparing for Winter
Posted November 10, 2016

The National Weather Service says winter is coming. The NWS forecasts more precipitation than normal across most of the northern parts of the US including Montana. That would be great since Montana's mountain ranges had a shortage of snow last winter. While there was one big dump of heavy wet snow and a rainy spell in October, November has started warm and dry. It's pretty unusual for us to have long stretches of warm weather this late in fall but that's what we have. Yesterday it was 74 F and it seemed more like summer.

I did get one skiing reminder. The image above appeared one morning on our living room ceiling. Nancy spotted it first. It reminded both of us of a Birkebeiner Birch Leg skier. The image has appeared several times recently but it only last for a few minutes. Then it's gone. We take is as an omen for a good winterseason; or maybe it's suggesting that I take up ski jumping.

It is time to prepare for winter. I know it will come ans I want to be ready. I actually began preparing for this winter right after the Birkie last February. I decided to drop some pounds and improve my general conditioning.

Conditioning is easy in summer - I do a lot of hiking, backpacking and mountaineering. Hiking in Montana's vast wilderness areas carrying only a specific amount of food means that you cannot over eat. Add the excercise of walking 8 to 12 miles a day in mountainous terrain and the pounds drop away and general fitness improves. But maintaining fittness during fall and the hunting season is another matter.

I have managed to do a little hiking and climbing. Here's a view from the summit of Wind Mountain. It's a nice little climb that requires an elevation gain of 2,000 feet and ascending some cliffs with exposure. You'll might notice the bright fluorescent orange vest! That's always a good thing to wear during hunting season.

I also visit Fit Choteau frequently. That is a small fitness group in town. I participate in one hour spining sessions on a stationary bike 4 days a week. That helps with general fitness, endurance and cardiovascular work but it doesn't help the upper body much. So I've added some rowing machine time.

I've found the rowing machine is a great workout that seems to strengthen more muscle groups while still providing the cardiovascular conditioning that is so important. I do a series of rowing workouts that include long endurance sesssons and well as short and long interval sessions. I also do several balance routines each day.

Any time I might feel a little low or maybe think I can skip a workout session I take a look at the photo of the entrance arch to the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Ski Festival and the XC Ski Academy I will attend is only a little more than two weeks away. And the Birkie is 106 days away.

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Welcome Back to Ralph's Blog!
Posted November 3, 2016

I've had plenty of adventures since my last post in March. Several mountaineering trips got me to some remote Montana mountaintops; Nancy and I enjoyed two trips to Washington DC to visit our grand kids; we also spent a week backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness; The whole family gathered in Glacier National Park for some camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking; and there was the spectacular Fourth of July Celegration in Choteau.

It's now November and my thoughts definitely are on the coming ski season. This is a good time to set goals and plan how I'm going to accomplish them.

I'll be skiing my 38th consecutinve American Birkebeiner ski race in February, always a highlight of winter. I also hope to ski the Rendezvous 25 Km Classic race in West Yellowstone in March. To prepare for these challenges I'm doing plenty of pre-season conditioning and will attend the 2016 edition of the Professional Ski Instructors Cross Country Academy in late November. Beyond that my goals for winter include having fun sking and enjoying the comraderie of my skiing friends and family. I hope you can all come with me on this winter's adventures.

I hope you can all come with me on this winter's adventures.

I'll post here at least once a week usually on Thursday or Friday. Be sure to check back to see what I'm up to. And as always if you have comments, suggestions or questions use the "Email Ralph" link in the left column.

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