As I mentioned in my last column, before marriage to Connie Lawn my winter passion was cross country skiing. Fortunately forsaking all others did not include my old XC skis and boots.
Events in Washington, DC are often magnified in the national news, but nearly a foot of fresh powder and a good trail within walking distance of home on Monday morning, January 14, 2019 was too tempting to pass up. I decided to leave clearing car and driveway for the afternoon when the temperature and sunlight would peak. Fairfax County contract road crews had been ruthlessly efficient in plowing and salting, and our neighborhood hilly streets, which would otherwise make great XC trails, were already down to asphalt.
I walked about a half mile from home to a hiker/biker trail beside Columbia Pike below the Lake Barcroft dam to access Holmes Run. Despite the proximity of traffic, the sound of the rushing stream, bird calls, and the swish and cadence of the skis on snow transported me back 40 years.
However, the temperature was rising and, on untracked snow, my waxless skis were grabbing. I pushed on until I reached a ford where I was preparing to take off my skis and walk across concrete pylons to continue. When I reached down to unclip my bindings I realized that my 40 year old boot soles were departing their bodies!
My medical training quickly kicked in (pun intended) and I began Advanced Crosscountryboot Life Support (ACLS) with my plastic ski straps.
I literally limped back up the trail in my own tracks using my skis as poles, walking about twenty steps slowly until the straps would slip off. I then had to find them in the snow and put them back on. I knew I could get back to the trailhead but I was concerned that I could not safely cross Columbia Pike without removing boots that were still keeping my feet dry and warm.
US Marines rescued Connie in Lebanon and I knew that one of our neighborhood heroes was former USMC and at home because of the snurlough day. I called him, explained the situation, and requested an extraction at the trailhead. He encountered some hostile action on the way (a snowplow came by just after he had cleared his Marine green Prius Humvee) but saved the day without my having to wave my small arms or start a fire! Puns and me, WE BAD.
Moral of the story: next time I will wear my telemark boots even if the backcountry is close to the backyard. Touring boots are still in the hospital waiting for rubber cement but will survive with a story to tell about their OOBE!
Charles Sneiderman jokes that he was a cross-country skier until he met Connie Lawn and his life went downhill after that. He is a DC area native and a semi-retired family physician. He reports on senior and adaptive snowsports for DCSki.
I had a the same thing happen a couple of years ago. Since up graded my XC gear to above the Thirft Store level.
XC is a great way to spend some time in a urban snow storm!
I live right next door (Ambrose Hills Townhouses) to that trail and run it every morning at 5:45 in the morning! I love spotting the foxes out.
Thanks Charles. Love the story. When I lived in NoVA it was Burke lake park for XC after work after dark, when fresh snow captured plenty of light. So peaceful.