December 8, 2009

The first big snow is about to hit Madison...

... and we just bought cross-country skis. I've never done any kind of skiing. Never so much as had a ski boot on my foot. But Meade has been skiing for 25 years, and I got him to move north, so despite my advance age of more than twice 25, I'm going to give it a go. For good measure, we bought snowshoes!

81 comments:

garage mahal said...

I wouldn't trust any of those crazed meteorologists if I were you.

Adele Mundy said...

Sonny Bono.

He's got you babe.

Dogwood said...

Good luck & have fun. I used to spend hours on cross country skis, but life got in the way. I miss the peace and solitude of gliding through freshly-fallen snow.

Don't forget your camera!

chickenlittle said...

I used to ski from Middleton to the intersection of the railroad tracks at Campus Drive, a distance of about 7 miles. In those days there were no trains running and I cut my own trail between the rails.

There also used to be be good skiing at Owen Park, including little hills and narrow bridges. Have fun guys- I'm kinda jealous.

wv: skiew a ski trail with a view- Sounds like Owen Park!

John Lynch said...

Durango got over a foot last night.

Schools closed, too. When I was a child they never, ever closed.

For some reason the city was able to plow the roads 30 years ago but can't anymore.

I hate ineffective government.

chickenlittle said...

One of the best times to cross-country ski (the Germans call it Skilaufen, literally "ski-running") is during a snow storm. Of course that requires that there already be some snow on the ground. I hope you get to do that too one day.

Irene said...

There's great cross-country skiing in our backyard. Come visit!

Paul said...

Well even though it's the hottest decade in history (according to an unimpeachable source who comments here) yesterday we awoke to snow....in Clayton, CA....the first time I've ever seen it fall that low.

Have fun XC skiing. I used to enjoy it when I lived back east

Expat(ish) said...

I went XC skiing once - on my honeymoon in Aspen 15 years ago (this 30/Dec!) my Canadian wife and I went maybe two miles down a trail to a ski-in restaurant. After two bottles of wine, a dessert wine, and a glass of brandy, we went back the way we came.

However it was no longer flat and easy, but treacherously rolling and full of tricky edge catchers.

30 minutes in, 2 hours back.

I'm not sure what the moral of that story is, but it might be worth trying.

-XC

Sam U. said...

Buy skis. Use them once.
Buy snowshoes. Use them once.
Buy an expensive bike. Use it once. Maybe even twice.

Complain bitterly about environmentalists who point out conspicuous consumption.

Then buy more equipment!

chickenlittle said...

Speaking of good clean Midwestern snow fun, you two could consider taking up skeeching. Skeeching (not sure of etymology) is the "sport" of hanging onto the back of a moving car's bumper during a heavy snow (before they plow or salt the street). One of the skills was to actually latch on without the driver knowing. I suppose this used to be easier back in the 70's when most cars still had metal bumpers.

Ah, memories!

The Drill SGT said...

ski boots on x-country ski's? more like sneakers IMHO

I dont think you're gonna like snow shoes. that is a LOT of work.

x-country is fun, snow shoing is hard work and only useful in deep deep power or going up serious inclines.

YMMV

Henry said...

Then buy more equipment!

It's for the economy. Everyone has to sacrifice.

Sheepman said...

Cross country skiing is fun and good exercise. Start on fairly flat terrain to begin with. Come to Norway when you're proficient.

Leland said...

We already got a good snow in Houston. Then again, I guess the operative word is "big".

k*thy said...

Starting out the season with a ton of snow will be sweet. It's beautiful to be out in the woods on new snow - quiet and clean. There are lot's of venues in and around Madison - for skiing and snowshoeing (I prefer the latter, myself).

chuck b. said...

I enjoyed snow-shoeing more than cross-country skiing.

HAVE FUN!!!

traditionalguy said...

Also try snow boarding. But by all means do not stare at the tree that you don't want to hit. Trees are not friendly when hit at 20+ mph.

Hunter McDaniel said...

If you are a biker in the summertime, then you'll want to be a cross country skier in the winter.
If you are a hiker in the summer time, then you'll prefer snowshoeing in the winter.

My wife and I are about your ages, and firmly in the latter category.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

When I was young and in shape I enjoyed skiing the nordic trails in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Truly beautiful trails with a great diversity of terrain (and not that far from Madison!).

AprilApple said...

Prepare for some cold cardio.
It is a nice way to see the beauty of winter.

Chip Ahoy said...

Wow. First big snow hits Madison.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Go for it, Ann. Definitely. You are not too old. I've got ten years on you and still enjoy it a lot ... except the the spottiness of snow cover this far south. Take advantage of where you are, but by all means begin on a level groomed trail.

For inspiration you might wish to learn about Jackrabbit Johannsen (1875 - 1987), the famous Norwegian-Canadian cross-country skier who still skied 10 km segments of the Canadian ski marathon when he was 109. In his early 100s he remained able to ski the entire course from Ottawa to Montreal.

pura vida said...

I LOVE cross country skiing here in beautiful Michigan. Good for lovely ladies with old knees. Like a walk in the woods, but even better.

bagoh20 said...

Yea go for it. If it goes well then you will be invigorated and post more. If not then you will post more as you nurse the injuries. Win/Win.

dbp said...

Alhouse may have an advantage having never done any kind of skiing. I had done a lot of downhill before ever trying cc and getting used to not having an attached heal is hell.

Just have Meade break trail and let him get exhausted doing it while you glide effortlessly over the trail he makes.

I'm sure you will love it!

Bob said...

It's really good exercise, and being on snowy winter trails can be incredibly peaceful. You can see the tracks of animals as they go about their winter business; there are no bugs to pester you, no poison ivy to avoid. Good times.

MadisonMan said...

I hope it's not the first of many. The last 2 years have worn me out, snow-wise.

Still, the day before a big storm is always very exciting. Nothing gets done at work, of course.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If la Althouse were pushing new taxes to punish me for buying bikes and skis, I'd be every bit as pissed as Profile 02407299546060974148 wants me to be. As it stands, meh.

Titus said...

Mary,

Go to Indian Mound or Indian Hill or Indian something.

It is between Waunakee and Mazomanie. Great Cross Country Place.

My parents go there, although they will be leaving for Arizona in January so you may not see them.

My dad's dog got in a fight with Donna Shalala's and her girlfriends dog one time at Indian Mound. Donna was very nice. My dad didn't know who she was but my mom told him. And she then told my dad Donna's a dyke but he was alright with that because she bought good coaches to the UW so he approved.

My husband purchased D&G perfume for my mom for christmas. Isn't that sweet? And chocoloates too and a Dreamweaver.

Beth said...

I wish I lived near enough to good snow to do some cross-country. I spent one winter, at age 20, working at a ski resort near Truckee, CA, and I loved it. I did fall down and go boom, though, and tore a ligament that lets me know when the weather's about to change even now. But still, what a thrill to get out in the snow and just move right over it.

Good luck!

Titus said...

None of my sister's husbands give my mom Christmas presents.

They are totally going to be jel.

Also, my husband is hot and foreign and exotic and has big arms. My sisters husbands are totally white and Fargoish. My husband also can speak 8 languages so there. Did you all know my husbands uses three different accents: 1) British-which is my fav; 2) Something Indian-which I find too Abu from the Simpsons and 3) a weird American/British combo which he uses at work because employees said it was hard to understand him.

I love hearing him say the word schedule-totally dreamy and immediate hard on. Do you know we Americans say the word schedule wrong?

Also, fellow republicans run don't walk to Up In The Air. So prescient, so great so Clooney. Thank you.

Titus said...

And then after skiing at Indian Mound go to dindin at The Feed Mill in Mazomanie. It is an old Train Stop. Totally cute. Great gift shop. Wonderful bakery items.

Warm fireplace, friendly staff, just totally fab.

Or go to The Bank in Spring Green. Really Really Fab. Not sure what it is doing in Wisconsin but it is delectable. An old bank turned into a restaurant. Very expensive too. Love seeing that in small towns. I do love Spring Green though-I love that area of Wisconsin.

Shanna said...

Sounds like fun! I wish it would snow here. Maybe it will since this is the hottest year on record!!! (eyeroll)

Mark Daniels said...

I've gone cross country skiing several times, once when it was about 20 below zero in upstate New York. It's been about twenty years since the last time I tried it, in northern Michigan. It is physically demanding, at least for someone as inept as I am, but, once you get the hang of it, a lot of fun. (Its great aerobic exercise.)

I enjoy snow shoeing a lot and used to do that when I was on my internship in northern Michigan some twenty-four years ago.

If we have to deal with snow, I guess it's a good idea to enjoy it.

Have fun.

Meade said...

Forecast for Dane County
Updated: 3:14 PM CST on December 8, 2009
Blizzard Warning in effect until midnight CST Wednesday night...

Tonight
Not as cold. Breezy. Areas of blowing snow until early morning. Snow through late evening...then snow and isolated thunderstorms after midnight. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation around 10 inches. Near steady temperature around 30. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent. Precipitation duration around 12 hours.

Wednesday
Windy with snow and blowing snow. Visibility one quarter mile or less at times in the late morning and afternoon. Snow accumulation of 2 to 3 inches. Total snow accumulation 12 to 14 inches. Highs in the upper 20s. North winds 15 to 25 mph shifting to the northwest 25 to 35 mph in the afternoon. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Precipitation duration of 5 to 8 hours.
» ZIP Code Detail

Wednesday Night
Bitterly cold. Much colder. Windy. Mostly cloudy. A 30 percent chance of light snow through late evening. Areas of blowing snow through late evening. Lows around 4 below. West winds 15 to 30 mph. 12 below to 22 below zero.

Thursday
Bitterly cold. Colder. Partly sunny. Highs around 8. West winds 15 to 20 mph. 13 below to 23 below zero.


We are golden!

John said...

For chickenlittle re skeeching, when I was growing up in the Bronx on Tiebout Ave. in the winter we would wait for a bus that was going up the hill on 86th st and hitch a ride on the bumper to the top of the hill. For Ann, my daughter is a runner, now 18 and a college freshman, who runs in snowshoes. She did the Empire State Games in Lake Placid in Jan. for the 5k snowshoe race. So practice, practice,practice.

JAL said...

Wow.

You are becoming more Palinized day by day!

And you, a law professor.

traditionalguy said...

The Wiconsin winter of 2009-10 needs a name to remember it by. How about the Great Madison Minimum? Or the Ice Packers Age? We can use the name to make fun of Madison Man when he says that the coldest air ever known means that the actually warm air must be disguised by a temporary "Weather Pattern".

Pogo said...

"White flags of winter chimneys
Waving truce against the moon
In the mirrors of a modern bank
From the window of a hotel room
"

Harsh Pencil said...

Doesn't Meade own a dog (or two)?

He should take up skijoring if his dog will pull. Unfortunately, I've trained mine to heel pretty well, and not pull on a leash. So he won't pull on the harness.

(Hmm. Maybe I'll buy a husky?)

Snowing in Mpls. now. Psyched to get out there and x-country.

chickenlittle said...

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Titus said...

I just spoke with mom who said there is no snow in Dane County yet but it is coming.

How exciting. I am totally jel.

David said...

There is nothing better designed to make you hate cross country skiing than to go with someone who has been doing it for 25 years. Even when he loves you and will be very nice about it.

traditionalguy said...

Don't forget your duck tape. Does duck tape come in purple?

Titus said...

Althouse, do you shovel or snow blow? Or do you have hired help to do this chore? Just curious.

Or do you now have Meadsy Poo?

Lem said...

That Meade is a tiger ;)

Florida said...

"... or do you blow."

Butthead says: Heheheheheheheheh.

Seriously ... if you do take up show-shoeing on a regular basis you'll lose that extra 10 pounds you've been carrying.

But I'm sure Meade has no ulterior motives.

Pogo said...

"I am totally jel.

Say what? Jel??

Makes me think of Something About Mary's hair gel.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I wish it WOULD snow here. It would warm up a bit. -4 degrees this morning and the high is expected to hit 22. Crystal clear, beautiful blue, freezing cold skies.

Ditto on the camera. Take photos....what fun. Lucky you guys.

Titus said...

I would LOVE to see a photo of Althouse shoveling.

Totally hot.

Do It Mary.

Penny said...

Cross country skiing is just about the best all around workout you can get for upper and lower body strength. That's why I bought a Nordic Track eons ago. All the benefits of the workout, but no cold weather to bear.

Frankly, I found it way too exhausting, and more like "real" exercise than I anticipated. Friends joked that it wasn't the exercise I found daunting, but the lack of a built-in ashtray.

cokaygne said...

Good for you. We had 8" of snow here in downeast ME the other day.

I did a lot of down hill skiing when we lived in CT, and missed it a lot when we first moved to coastal ME. Since then, however, down hill skiing seems like a very carbon-intensive way to have fun, unless you walk up the hill. And it is expensive.


XC skiing is fine, but snowshoeing is way, way better. With snowshoes you can go anywhere there is snow, and you can usually get a good pair for not much money. It is the best way to see the beauty of the world after a snowstorm.

Feel sorry for y'all who live in snowless places. Nothing worse than cold weather and no way to enjoy it.

Original Mike said...

I gassed up the snow blower and started it up last night (just to make sure it would start), so I'm ready.

Pogo said...

I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

Lem said...

How Natasha Richardson’s Fall on Bunny Slope Could Go So Wrong..

I'm just saying.. it sound like Meade is an adrenaline junky ;)

AlphaLiberal said...

Once you're fairly stable on the skis I recommend Indian Lake county park.
http://countyofdane.com/lwrd/parks/indian_lake.aspx

More simpler and closer parks here:
http://countyofdane.com/lio/mapcatalog.asp

Another one is less crowded and more wooded, not a county park. It's down by Belleville. Pretty neat. The name escapes me at the moment.

AlphaLiberal said...

Blue Mounds state park also has some nice holiday skiing events, with candles in the paper paper bags lining trails. nice family fun and easy wide trails.

edutcher said...

From what I've heard, Sarge is right about show shoes - lots of work.

Whichever you end up liking, it will keep you slim and svelte.

One question, though, you say Meade has skied before. Downhill or XC? That could make a difference on how much you - and he - enjoy this.

Meade said...

Forecast for Dane County
Updated: 3:14 PM CST on December 8, 2009
Blizzard Warning in effect until midnight CST Wednesday night...

Tonight
Not as cold. Breezy. Areas of blowing snow until early morning. Snow through late evening...then snow and isolated thunderstorms after midnight. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation around 10 inches. Near steady temperature around 30. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent. Precipitation duration around 12 hours.

Wednesday
Windy with snow and blowing snow. Visibility one quarter mile or less at times in the late morning and afternoon. Snow accumulation of 2 to 3 inches. Total snow accumulation 12 to 14 inches. Highs in the upper 20s. North winds 15 to 25 mph shifting to the northwest 25 to 35 mph in the afternoon. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Precipitation duration of 5 to 8 hours.
» ZIP Code Detail

Wednesday Night
Bitterly cold. Much colder. Windy. Mostly cloudy. A 30 percent chance of light snow through late evening. Areas of blowing snow through late evening. Lows around 4 below. West winds 15 to 30 mph. 12 below to 22 below zero.

Thursday
Bitterly cold. Colder. Partly sunny. Highs around 8. West winds 15 to 20 mph. 13 below to 23 below zero.

We are golden!


I hope you've wintered in the Great White North before, compadre. Cincinnati is going to seem positively tropical compared to where you are now.

Tari said...

Go for it! One of the only things I miss about the great white north ...

Bruce Hayden said...

Looks like a lot of the country is getting hit. We got a foot or so yesterday in N. Nevada just down out of the Sierras. I spent a couple of extra hours in the Las Vegas airport waiting to fly back to Reno. The problem was that they weren't sure that they could deice, and didn't want to fly planes in there that couldn't take off (we got deiced Sunday on the way out, even before the snow really hit).

All of our N. Nevada offices were closed yesterday, which didn't affect me, since I was in Las Vegas, which was supposed to get snow, but didn't.

Making matters worse for me, I have three vehicles: an Audi A6, a Suburban, and a Tahoe. I blew a tire Sat. on the Audi, and the Suburban needs a jump. The Audi has full time 4 wheel drive and decent snow tires. The Suburban is a 4x4 with deep lug tires. So which vehicle did I have to take to the airport? The rear wheel drive Tahoe with the summer tires. I have driven snow for 40+ years, and it was not a pleasant drive back last night in that vehicle with those tires. US 395 had been plowed, a little. And I was really in trouble when I drove into my subdivision. I made it, but not without a little excitement. Today is much better, despite not having either of the other vehicles running yet.

Paddy O. said...

Last year, I had to snowshoe to get to my wedding.

This year, I'm hoping to avoid snow.

Bruce Hayden said...

As for X-Country skiing - have been doing it some for maybe 30 years or so. I still have some flat tracking skis in Nevada. Probably 20 years old. I skied them twice last winter. Mostly, I use AT type equipment, which lets you free heel uphill, and then lock your heels down for downhill. Much, much, better in the back country. Somewhat similar to Telemark equipment, but with the locking heels.

I know that there are reasons to use snow shoes, but, still, I think that skis are much more practical. Three guys in my male bonding ski group took skis up McKinley, and then skied down after summiting. It took them 2-3 hours to retrace what it took them 2-3 days to climb. And that efficiency would have been lost if they had been on snow shoes instead. You can go uphill almost as fast with skins on either AT or telemark skis, as compared to snow shoes, and can come down 5-10 times as fast.

My advise to Ann - just mostly walk around on the cross-country skis the first day or two to get your balance. Then you can start working on kicking, gliding, etc.

Penny said...

This is a curiousity question for those of you out there with young kids. Do kids still get as excited about an impending snowstorm as they used to when we were young?

I know many things have changed with the young, and wondered if this was one of those things.

Harsh Pencil said...

My kids are psyched!

WV: mentsti.

MamaM said...

My parents were both in their mid-50's when they started cross country skiing and they enjoyed almost 20 years of ski experiences together.

Their favorite memory involved a trip on the CN/Algoma Central Rail out of Sault Ste. Marie to one of the Wilderness Rail Lodges along the way. They got off at mile 118.5, left their luggage at the stop for later pick-up, put on their skis and with a map (no guide) made their way to Kwagama Lake Lodge where they were expected.

I don't know if this particular option still exists, but the Agawa Canyon Tour Train site lists several Wilderness by Rail Lodges Along the Line that offer cross country skiing.

May you begin a similar journey of many years enjoying your own adventures as you step into your new skis and start gliding forward.

chickenlittle said...

Do kids still get as excited about an impending snowstorm as they used to when we were young?

Yes

MamaM said...

Penny, it's not just the kids, the birds seem to know something is coming too. Our feeders have been full all afternoon, with birds waiting in the trees for their turn to land and feed.

The front edge of the storm is scheduled to arrive in our area (MI) within the hour and the barometer has been steadily dropping for the last several hours.

In my experience, the excitement of children is often enhanced by the prospect of a snowday, or something out of the ordinary happening. But I also believe some children sense or pick up on some of the same sensory data and atmospheric clues available to the animals and birds.

Penny said...

MamaM, I got my first bird feeder this year, and one day over the past four or five was CRAZY with activity. We had our first snow on Saturday, but not sure if that was the active day or not. I'll be paying closer attention in the future.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Good for you, Althouse. Get out and put nice easy trail miles on those skis. You'll do fine. I see people well into their 80 doing XC skiing. Just stay off of the steep hills.

The secret to comfort in very cold weather is the right underwear. Try Cuddle Duds, or other thin, warm clothes. Wear layers that can be opened to cool you down. We head into the woods in -20 temps, properly dressed, face covered, and are seldom uncomfortable.

You'll also enjoy snow shoeing. It's very easy to learn, especially with the newer, smaller high-tech snow shoes. Thee is a great pleasure in silently cutting a fresh trail in snow shoes, especially a trail where skiiers can't go.

Ann Althouse said...

As for the snow shoveling... Meade likes to do it. I did it years ago, but had switched to a service. Meade is also roasting a chicken out on the grill. And he taught me the basics with the skis out in the front yard. It's all terribly outdoorsy for me!

Elliott A said...

70 degrees and heavy rain tonight and tomorrow....sigh.

Ann, please post some photos!

MadisonMan said...

traditionalguy: SHouldn't Madison actually have record cold before you name a winter something like that? I don't suppose top 5 warmest November counts?

Meade said...

Looks like I'll be shoveling tonight and much of the day tomorrow.

I'll try to get some pictures of Mrs. Meade on her new skis on Thursday or Friday. Until then, you'll all just have to take my word for it that she looked formidably divinely cooly smarter-ly cute today. Darn near nordic-ly cute.

Great comments, everyone. Thanks for all the great tips, information, animations, and personal stories!

traditionalguy said...

Madison man...Winter starts in two more weeks. Please stay inside tomorrow night, if you can. I do want you to survive.

MadisonMan said...

Astronomic winter starts in 2 weeks. Meteorological winter has started already.

I cannot believe MATC AND the UW cancelled classes *already* tomorrow. And just about every public school has closed as well for tomorrow (not Madison, not Middleton, not Sauk Prairie, but as far as I can tell, everyone else).

Michael Hasenstab said...

Hey, UW has cancelled classes for Wednesday. Ski day!

MadisonMan said...

General rejoicing at my house now -- Madison has cancelled school tomorrow.

Beth said...

Meade is also roasting a chicken out on the grill.

I like grilling in the snow! Have fun. Yum.

Ann Althouse said...

The snow-grilled chicken was sublime, and Meade cut up a nicely ripened pineapple and baked a delicata squash.

Daniel Fielding said...

Ann- I am surprised that you didnt go x-country skiing in the Arb or the Huron Hills golf course or the U-M Golf Course when you grew up in A2. Nowadays, there are x-country skiiers, students from the dorm in the sleds and cafeteria plastic trays, or show-shoes the moment there is a dusting of snow at any one of these places.
But, it is never to late to get started in these wonderful outdoorsy activities.