Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rippie runs 3 Miles. What?!

Today, Vespi and I took my parents' 10 year old golden retreiver on his first real trail run. A few weeks ago, he had gone on a four mile hike with my dad up to Snowshed and he came back so completely exhausted my mom thought he was going to pant out his last breathe.

So I tied the two of them together and they took off at full speed, pulling me behind them. It was then I realized that Rippie had only two speeds - sprint and stroll. Pulling them to a halt, I shoved the dogs behind me. I always hike is way because I like to be the first thing hikers and bikers come across, not some over enthusiastic animal. Well, Rippie still hadn't mastered the whole pacing himself concept and ran full speed into me, sending me sprawling forward on Rosey's crushed rocks :(

Needless to say, Rippie very quickly realilzed his error and remained safely behind me for the remainder of the run. Nothing a few back kicks can't handle. Now while Vespi and I normally run on the upper bike trails, Killington was packed with downhillers, from beginners to professionals, getting ready for tomorrow's Eastern States Cup downhill mountain biking race. So today we kept out of their way and hung out on Trails 22, 28 and 19, making for a nice 3 mile jaunt.

And I say jaunt because Rippie couldn't hold anything faster than a fifteen minute mile. Vespi kept giving him dirty looks because he was going so slow, but all he could think about was staying alive :) Don't worry, Mom, he was breathing hard - but he was still breathing!

And we found the compressor! I have been playing a game of hide and seek with my snowmaker friends for the past few weeks. Every summer, the resort rents a compressor or two in order to perform their annual inspection of each and every snowmaking pipe on the mountain. This means that they have to move the one compressor around the mountain, like it's own little adventure. So the snowmakers and I play our game. They move the compressor around the mountain - and I have to hike around and go find it! Easy for me, the compressor just showed up at the top of Snowshed today :) Thanks, boys!

And now for something completely different:

If you see a man driving around with his chin strap tight under his chin in this scene out of Monty Python's Flying Circus, don't forget to wave! That's our head honcho of ski patrol cruising around in his brand new Kubota RTV1140. This crazy four wheeler can travel up to 25 mph and hauls up to 1100 pounds. Can't wait to see all the trail maintenance you can do with that, Tait!

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Running Around in Circles

I felt trapped. Since I had some errands to do in town, I packed up my new Vibram Five Fingers, my grocery bags and headed into Rutland. I no time at all, I was completely drenched in sweat - and I mean SOAKED! But I just kept running around in circles; Pine Hill has no real "destinations," just miles and miles of highly maintained mountain biking trails. It actually became a little distressing, because although I do enjoy the adventure itself, today's run felt more like a treadmill than anything I have done in a while. So I focused on my stride and breaking in my new foot coverings instead.

I have to say that it is really wierd running at Pine Hill Park because of the specificity of its trail system. The bridges are designed to bounce with the bike as you cross them, which made me feel like I was floating around on a ship getting tossed in the waves. Not a negative feelings, just a very different experience from the solid ground of the mountain.

Today was also an exercise in stretching my femur from my hip socket. Since the trails are technically easy to run - almost all the rocks and roots have been removed so it's almost like road running on meandering dirt - I was able to really focus on rotating my femur bone in toward the center and then pushing the bonehead out of the socket. This is similar to what you would do in mountain pose, I was just taking that into my running. And it is an AMAZING feeling. By the time I was done with my run, I felt almost as if I had gone through my hip opening sequence in yoga. I am getting very addicted to the freedom of loose hips!!

As a skier, I believe that loose hips can benefit us in soooo many ways, not the least of which being injury prevention and increased recovery from potential wipeouts. Imagine catchng your edge where one ski keeps going in the opposite directioof your body. A tight hipped skier might scream in pain, pull their ACL or even groin muscle trying to make everything work. Now imagine you are flexible enough to allow your femur some movement within the socket. That same injury would not happen, because your body would embrace the stretch and have the strength to pull the femur back into place - NO injury.

Photograph from Washington Livin' Blog

While I was thinking about all this yesterday, it began to really rain. Chef Frizzie and I estimated that, depending on the temperature, we should have been getting 4-6 inches of snow last night. That would mean that instead of working on this blog, Washington Livin', would have been skiing shin deep powder this morning. Oh well, I guess I can wait another 12 weeks...right? But then he showed me his son's blog from out in the Pacific Northwest - where he is still mountaineerjng every weekend while we are stuck here in the heat and pouring rain :( WTF!! But I highly recommend you check out his blog - he is a beautiful photographer and has some really amazing adventures around the snow-capped Stephen's Pass area.

Location:Pine Hill Park, Rutland, VT

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DeConstruction, DeConstruction Everywhere!

I've been out of town for a few days, so I just had to get up to Killington Peak and check out the Peak Lodge Deconstruction. But, because of the hold on permits everything is now happening at once! I said hi to Lacombe at K1, who encouraged me to stay away from the his project because today was the trickiest part - Winching the huge snowmaking pipes up Cascade!

So Trail E was rerouted up Escapade, which I honestly have never walked up in the summertime (done it in winter though!) and was treated to a completely different array of wildflowers!

Looks like a party in the snowmaker four-wheeler!

But this is what I really came for - to check out the deconstruction of the Peak Lodge, which finally began on Monday. I was guessing that by today - Thursday - they would have had one wall down...

But it looked so freaky as I came up the Stairway to Heaven. You can see where the skier's left wall just stops and doesn't actually connect to anything...

...because there was nothing there! The Casella guy that I spoke with said he was amazed with how fast and easy the building came down. While it was forty years old, he figured that each year was more like 5 years in wear and tear from exposure. There was one corner that came down at whole lot easier than all the others though!

Remembering that both the Green Mountain Club and Pres Smith's original boone of peak construction was porcupines, I was delighted to hear that there was a big 30 pounder residing under the Peak Lodge. Of course, he has now been displaced.

The dogs and I sat up top for a while and watched the Catepillar's do their work. I found it very interesting that instead of the entire beam separating, only part of the beam would detach - they would easily break at the disintegrated weak point. I bet you're glad it's coming down now!!

Then the other guy would gather up the metal and pile them up, getting ready for the big Casella dump trucks that were amazingly making it up the Great Eastern Work Road. Killington had a groomer watching the truck wheels spin on the loose gravel work road and then would fix those spots right up with the excavator for the next load.

A bit of carpet lying around :)

Hey - anybody want to go have lunch up ther on the picnic tables? The workers all thought they were pretty funny by having left them up there :). Actually, all the workers were having a really great time and we excited to be part of this historical event.

Sorting metal, steel and wood in order to make a little bit of money from the deconstruction....

"Sound Horn" signs are EVERYWHERE! Which is good, I guess, unless you want to get run over by a 30 yard roll off dumpster on its way down the mountain filled with crap...

For all you Star Wars Fans: One of the last few looks at the Blast Shield Generator on the Forest of Endor :)

Big 30 yard roll-off dumpster getting driven up the mountain. Seriously, this might be the most impressive part of the whole deconstruction.

We descended via South Ridge order to check out the removal of the ascending towers. They are moving downhill from the get-off and it looked like they were at about tower 23 or so. Looks like they just chopped them off at the bottom and plopped them over. Timber!

Like there wasn't enough construction going on today, Rosey and Corey have been getting ready for this weekend's downhill mountain bike race. I am hoping they remove all this white taping before winter comes - but it looks great in the summer! Wierd though that the are really buffing out the trail - I thought races were supposed to be technical?

One last parting shot as we reached the bottom of K1 :)

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gardens at the Birch Ridge Inn

I had some time to kill before the first table showed up, so I walked around the Birch Ridge Inn with my camera to capture all of Innkeeper and Owner Mary Furlong's beautiful flowers gardens.    There were so many different types in bloom - this is only a small sampling!  I have no idea what most of them are, but I can guarantee you that Mary has all the information you could ever want :) I do know that I had never seen so many beautiful hostas, not quite blooming but oh so close!

You will have to stop by the inn this weekend to see them all! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paddling Up the Mountain?

This morning was one of the toughest runs I've had in a while. It wasn't the distance or the elevation gain, but a combination of being way too freakin' hot and me trying to really push my technical ability. Basically, pushing too hard on a hot day. Oh well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - so long as you learn the lesson!

After yesterday's thoughts about constantly striving to make technical improvements while I am skiing, I reevaluated my running skills - which I have to be completely honest, are fairly poor. Traditionally, I am a vertical runner. This means that I tend to push off my back foot into the air rather than forward in my stride. For the past few weeks, I have been focusing on reaching my front knee then foot forward so that I can actually run further each stride! This is kind of like moving from plank to runner's pose in yoga, something that I am also not very good at but constantly improving :)

This morning, I was able to take my mental cues from paddling and rowing, where you have to reach out for the catch of the stroke before the blade softly enters the water. My initial efforts today were a light, flowy leg stride through the air, where I would then try to land softly on the ball of my outstretched foot. The idea was to then grab with my toes and pull that front foot underneath me. Just like a stroke through the water.

While this was an initally awesome idea, I had overstepped my ability level with this new technique by choosing to run up Ramshead on the mountain biking trails (before the bikers wake up, for safety reasons). Just a little too much, too soon and I ended up cursing myself and my stupid new technique the last mile up the mountain where I was neither light nor flowy but instead felt like a big block of skier forcing my way through an untrimmed mess of trees. You know, where you can smell that kick ass line but just can't seem to find it? That was me this morning.

Thank goodness the mountain was beautiful and bike trails are, for the most part, in the shade. Otherwise, I feel there would have been a puddle of dehydrated and pessimistic goo where once a skier was running. At one point, I realized that I was drinking my own sweat as it dripped off my face. SOOO gross! And it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow!! Argh!

Next phase: I am going to try to use the different phases of the turn to adjust my running stride. I'm going skiing tomorrow!!

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

on a side note - these photos were taken with my iPhone, so the quality is pretty poor. I was too lazy to to carry my backpack today.

Location:Ramshead, Killington, VT

Monday, July 18, 2011

I don't care what it looks like, just keep moving...

After much enthusiastic reviews from a local snowboarder, I tried P90X this morning via a loaned DVD. It probably took me almost as long to figure out how to set up the DVD player as it did to follow along for the forty-five minutes of punches, kicks & yoga. Overall, the workout was a great combinatn of different activites and I felt good for the rest of the day. Qhat threw me off, however, was one comment made by the host, "I don't care what it looks like, just keep moving!"

I am assuming that this was supposed to be a motivating comment, but it threw me for a complete loop. Every activity In which I participate, I view as art through efficiency of movement, which means thst even my smallest movement in controlled, pondered and - yes - analyzed. From skiing to running and paddling to biking and pilates...each of these activities requires a conscious mind, focused on the effect that even a minor variation can cause. Ony through attention to the movement could sheer beauty and grace be acheived on the snow, in the woods and on the water.

But here, technique was not important? In a way, I found this freeing as a threw my leg over the stool in front of me, and then back again...over and over. Instead of focusing on how I was moving, I let the movement control me - I was out of control of my own body. It didn't last. While I totally welcomed the aggression of pushing myself to jump higher and kick further, I found myself pushing my femur forward, reaching toward the wall in front of me to make a smoother, longer arc. When I just focused on pushing through the exercise, I wasn't thinking about what I was doing - just when it would end.

I feel a lot of people ski this way. Rather than focusing on how they ski, taking lessons or working repeatedly on a specific muscle movement, they merely throw themselves down the mountain as fast and as often as possible. They don't care what they look like or how they are moving, whether or nor do they care if they are threatening self-injury through a lack of awareness. They are simply moving, completely out of control and without any regard for efficiency, grace or physical health. "Yo, bro - check me out, I'm doing it!"

Movement for movements sake....Probably not the safest mindset while you're dodging trees on a powder day. I study Pilates and Yoga so that I am aware of every idiosyncracy in my movements as I'm skiing. Every new realization expands my ski mind and brings me to a completely new level on the's amazing how a minute difference can have such a significant influence on your skiing. I've been working on my femur awareness - this coming ski season is going to be wonderous!!

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Location:Killington, VT

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ski Bum Tubing :)

A Strange Medley of Photos and Plenty of Skier Quotes from today's Tubing Adventure on the White River .

Where, amazingly, we talked about skiing, riding and snow for pretty much the entire time.

Did you know that floating through rapids is just like skiing moguls?
Make sure you pick your line before you start.

"Hey - see my shin muscle?" shouted the boyfriend as he floated by. "That's what holds your fore-aft balance."

Did you ever skip school to go skiing? What did your parents do when they found out? Or were they the ones who pulled you out of school?

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Location:White River, Gaysville, VT

The Dog Days of Trail Running

Even though I still haven't returned to full hydration levels, Vespi and I set out this morning to see how a run would go. It was an open-minded and open-ended run, my only goal being to make it to K-1 to check out the Saturday business levels. My headache kicked in around the top of Snowshed, so I pretty much just followed Vespi around from then on.

For a while, she continued on our regular two-hour loop as she headed up trail 8 to the Cascade runoff. But it didn't take her long to realize that I was fairly mindlessly following we ended up at just about every swimming hole she could think of, especially the old K-Chair snowmaking pond, before she finally redirected us home.

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Location:Killington, VT

Friday, July 15, 2011

Recovering from Heat Stroke

What a perfect day for a recovery paddle! I spent the last 24 hours sleeping off the heat stroke that I earned down in Harriman State Park, NY earlier in the week. I would start my day with a 3-4 mile run...and then spend the rest of the day paddling on the water with an enthusiastic group of kids...and then finish the night with a half bottle of wine with old friends. There just wasn't enough fresh water to make up for all that :(

So after a strong paddle across the reservoir, it was time to take a break and get out the camera. I randomly came across this wieerd thing attached to an underwater branch and had to back paddle to get a better look. These colonies, which can appear like fish eggs to the inexperienced observer (that would be me) are actually filter feeders - called Bryozoans - that clean the water. I had to look this one up on the internet, which was tricky considering I was looking for fish eggs!

There was a beautifully preserved stump just a few feet down the lake...of the twenty photos I took, non really made me happy. I am still struggling with the underwater settings on my camera. I estimate that by the time I figure it out, the camera will be broken.

Some lake grass - but my favorite part of this picture is the clouds! The temperature was in the low seventies and cloudy enough that I could actually breathe :) Hooray!!

and for a finishing touch...a dead crayfish hiding amidst the rocks along the shore! classic.

See you on the Mountain,
FemaleSkiBum :)

Location:Chittenden Reservoir, Chittenden, VT