It had begun to feel like a conspiracy. I knew that it was snowing in WV on Fri. 1/19. I loaded the car and headed W/NW driving though snow on mtn. roads for the last 2 hrs. Settled happily into the Blackwater Falls Lodge with powder dreams. Sat. AM up early, breakfast, put boots in the passenger seat under the heater, turned the key and let up the clutch - STALL. ??? Repeated twice more; the car tried to lerch forward then died - in neutral. Put it in reverse and same result. Nmad! What's going on here!!! ??? I called AAA. An hour later the son of a father/son garage showed up, looked it over and pronounced a transmission problem, probably linkage. Dad was out on a tow call in Elkins (20 miles away) with several others in line before me; after all this was a snow morning. I made a deal. I gave him my keys and announced that if the tow was to be mid afternoon or later I'd walk down the road to the Blackwater Falls touring center, rent some XC gear, ski and call him later in the PM for a report. OK? OK. So I did get in some skiing on new snow on Sat. and got to explore a new area. I got the wax perfect for the dry spots but it has been very warm and wet in WV and little streams ran everywhere on unfrozen ground. A dozen times I stopped, took skis off and scraped 10 lbs or so of ice/slush off the bottom of each ski. Nevertheless it was skiing.
On Sun. I got my car back at 9 AM. It had been stuck between 2 gears and the trans fluid was nearly gone. They unstuck it and filled the fluid and it worked fine. $30 with AAA. I gave him 40 and headed for the hills with more snow falling, bought a single ride at Canaan Valley ski area, ducked out the back door and headed for the "National Nordic Reserve". A NATO clinic was there but they took just one run and left. The past 48 hrs of snow amounted to perhaps 10-12" but it drifts here. It was Utah powder in WV with more falling ever more intensely. Nobody else was there and I skied 5 laps barely touching bottom in one or two spots. Each time I skinned back up my previous tracks were almost filled in. I doesn't get much better. I skied back down to the area base lodge on a run that has had no snowmaking and no grooming all season - a green run but with perfect powder and first tracks who cares? A deer bounded across not 50 feet in front of me looking like he was having almost as much fun as I was. I headed for the Whitegrass cafe for a late lunch, met up with Dickie Hall, http://www.whitegrass.com/graphics/report/DSC05296.jpg
and watched the snow fall even harder. Right then and there I came down with the flu, ski flu. I did not relish a drive on mtn. roads in a blizzard with night falling anyway, and besides what can you do when you have the flu?
At this point the conspiracy resurfaced. I no sooner checked back in to the lodge than I heard the grating sound of freezing rain on the windows. Temp. had risen 6-8 deg. in an hour. It alternated rain, freezing rain, snow all night. In the morning I repeated Sunday's routine hoping with baited breath that the 4000 ft. temp. stayed below freezing. No such luck. I parted the snow covered evergreens to enter the path to the backcountry and the snow shattered like glass - breakable crust. I skied it anyway and surprise, did not fall and could link turns. It just required a very heavy rear weighted telemark to punch through to the soft snow below. Loud Powdah that made a ripping noise and threatened to bruise my shins. Breakable crust is probably the one condition in which a telemarker actually has an advantage over a fixed heel skier. Sometimes I enjoy getting down and dirty and dealing with whatever the mountain dishes out, but not at risk of a broken leg alone in the backcountry, so I did one run and skied out on the same green trail through more crust. I went back to Whitegrass and had an unexpected meeting with a friend I had not seen in 5 years. We skied together up 3-mile to Roundtop and back down on XC skis.
On balance it was an adventure. It almost always is.