Sunday, April 24, 2011

Frostbitten Twice Shy...

If you look carefully at this photo, you'll notice a single cross country ski with the sole of a cross country ski boot still clipped in and a pair of cross country ski boots lying on the ground in bits and pieces.

This wasn't the state of things last thursday, when I agreed to travel back up into the mountains with a couple of friends to go cross country skiing for probably the last time this year.

We knew the snow would be extremely soft as the weather has been mildly warm. We knew there would be patches where the snow had melted altogether, usually in places where a creek of running water helped take the snow off down the mountain in the form of water.

We knew that none of us were very good at cross country skiing, and that I was in the best shape but had the least amount of time spent on cross country skis (and that I got all my equipment for ten bucks at a garage sale back in the early 1990's)

We knew all these things and off we went. Skiing in about three miles before the "incident" that would alter my life forever. (Well, if you consider the fact that I'll have to go out and buy new cross country ski boots, I'd say my life has been altered!)

One minute I was second in line of three, chugging along and trying to make my skis do what I wanted them to, using my big arms to pole my way along, trying my best not to let my friend Charles catch up to me, and the next I was flat on my back, staring up at the sky "looking for eagles".

I had let myself get too far back balance-wise and as I tried to pull myself "up", my right ski boot tore apart and I went down on my back in an instant.

And I know it wasn't any longer than an instant because I didn't even have time to start the first consonant of a cuss, not a whisper left my lips until I hit the snow with my back and uttered a large ensemble of vowels.

I believe I said "Ooouuf!"

My friend Charles said "I missed it!"

As if watching me fall on my back was something you were supposed to see.

But there I lay, staring skyward and laughing, and then I tried to get up and get my skis beneath me and my right ski wouldn't do a single thing I wanted it to. It just went floppity floppity.

The toe of my ski boot was still in the bindings, but the sole of the boot was no longer attached to the actually boot. I had ripped the sole mostly off the boot, and now my right ski would only go floppity floppity.

"You guys go on and enjoy yourselves. I'll just limp back to the truck."

The trail was an out and back so I'd see them again soon as they were old and out of ski-shape and not likely to go too far out as this meant they'd have to come too far back.

I turned myself around and set my uncontrollable ski in a ski track and just pushed it along in a kind of cross country limp.

I couldn't turn it so if the track turned, I'd have to take my ski pole and use it to pull the tip of the ski over one way or the other. I did this many times, and within a half an hour, the two intrepid back country boys had returned and were overtaking me with much gladness in their aging hearts.

"Kind of slow going, ain't it?" Charles asked.

"Oh it's alright," I said. "I'm just happy to be out in the woods today. I don't even notice how slow I am unless you two come along and pass me by."

They traveled ahead and then waited for me to catch up, doing this twice before making the final push to the parking lot and the truck.

The trouble was, right after they started this final push I fell over again! This time, my left boot had exploded and my foot had stove-piped deep into the really soft snow. I fell over to where my head was much lower than my feet and got kind of stuck there for a bit. I laughed and laughed at my lonely predicament, then righted myself the way a drunk might, getting all my limbs beneath me doggy style and then standing slowly up from that position.

The trouble was, I could not walk in this snow. It was very soft and at least three feet deep. Each foot I placed on its surface shot through to the bottom and sucked onto my legs like mud.

I would have to stand atop my skis and just shuffle them along, trying to keep them from twisting over and dumping my feet into the deep and soft, slushy ICE.

The front of both my boots were wide open to the world, and my socks were now completely wet and my toes were completely numb, and I had better keep moving before I froze a digit off, is what I thought.

I had a hell of a time shuffling along atop of those very skinny skis. I fell off them many times and sank deep into the snow. With the will of Allah and some Magic Prayer, I managed to get myself along until the snow turned into parking lot.

"We were just about ready to send out a search party," Charles said as I approached the truck.

I pointed to the other boot.

"That one too? How'd you... aren't your feet cold?"

I sat down on my tailgate and changed into some fresh and dry socks and my wooly boots.

"They're frozen. They hurt like hell."


My right toe would not stop hurting so I went out and played eighteen holes of frisbee golf that afternoon when I got home. The walking helped press out dead blood that was dead-ended in the tissue there and they feel fine now, more like they are lightly bruised.


dogbait said...

I have a set of great Kneissl XC skis and boots you can have. They're only 28 years old!

Shrinky said...

Gee, you have some tough friends! Gawwd, what a trip, glad you made it back before any amputation was required - sheesh, I can't turn my back on you for one minute, can I?

Stay outta' trouble..!

Jeannie said...

I suppose you did what you had to do but I'm glad it wasn't me. I've only cross country skied a couple times and really enjoyed it but I was young then and took to it like a fish out of water. No idea why I never kept it up.

Glad your toes are still attached. That was a mite dangerous.

secret agent woman said...

The one year I did any cross-country skiing, I managed to fall down the side of a mountain. On the bright side, the chmois got a good laugh.

Good you weren't seriously hurt.