Get another cup of coffee and settle in, its time to waste a solid half hour reading about my stupid antics...
We started the first lap at 10:45am, and the weather was nice enough that it was already soft and slushy, which made for some slow going. It was clear the road hadn't been groomed in a while, so there were some deep ruts from the snow machines, and the higher we climbed, the softer it was getting. I had a warm LF on my skis, but that wasn't helping, and the dirt in the snow was definitely getting picked up by the fairly aggressive structure on my good rock skis. The first lap was 30km, to the top and back, but it was one of the slowest 30k's I've ever done, and that wasn't for lack of trying. Even on the downhills, you had to skate to move. Lap 1.
It was a beautiful day! Tank top weather. Honestly, I would have been quite happy stopping after that first lap...
This was the lower part of the road, just before the big climb starts - the good snow. Our night laps turned around at this point, because the snow was in better shape, and the ruts coming down the big climb would have been suicidal once it hardened up.
When we got to the top of the climb and started down towards Danby, there was significantly less snow - I guess that side of the mountain gets more sun. We only visited that part of the road once in 24 hours.
Devil's Den, in the White Rocks National Forest.
Ken skiing up through chunky snow.
Greg, me, and Ken, at Devil's Den.
We stopped back at the van to refuel after the first 30km, which had taken close to 3.5 hours, stops included. Ed showed up at this point to ski a lap with us (at least one of us has some sense to not ski through the night), and the conditions were even softer.
Don't mess with this guy and his salami...
That sandwich tasted so good.
We skied back up to the top, but instead of continuing down towards the melted-out parts of the road, we head in to Old Job instead. Route for lap 2.
At the washed out bridge, our turn-around for lap 2.
Coming back up the hill, in our perfect mid-winter conditions.
We finished that second lap around 7pm, and Ed agreed to show up at 11:30 with something hot to eat, he brought chicken noodle soup, which was so awesome its beyond words. We started our first night lap at 8 - we were definitely taking our time with transitions, and its amazing how quickly time passes when you don't particularly want to go off skiing again. I would change clothes, start drinking water (just couldn't carry enough water during the day to keep up with hydration, 60+ degrees is hot work!), eat some food, and then it would be time to go again. Where does the time GO? Anyway, it was still relatively soft as we started the night laps, but with the sun down, things were hardening up fast.
We did three short laps (12km each), and I was glad we weren't going all the way up to the top, since we were turning around before the big hills. Its crazy how time is so fluid at night - each lap felt like it was over very quickly, but at the same time, it didn't feel like time was moving at all as we were skiing. The little landmarks that you'd notice during the daytime (where we cross a bridge, or where there is that big tree stump, etc) were totally useless at night, instead you'd notice things like "oh, there is that branch with all the moss on it in the trail", or "look, the pile of dog poop!" - all stuff on the trail, following the dot of a headlamp into the night. Even I was pretty quiet during these laps, just picking my way through frozen ruts and learning which part of the trail was best to ski on.
These are Greg's best racing socks. Apparently, he is so huge that he can't get ski boots that fit him, so has to wear the thinnest socks possible in order to fit into his boots. Because THAT sounds comfortable.
Ed was there at 11:30 with a pot of chicken noodle soup, which pretty much made my night. I'll admit I was pretty jealous at the fact that he'd gotten to take a hot shower, and was going back to sleep in a bed, and I almost considered bailing, but my pride wouldn't let me form the words. We were skiing again by 1am, and the snow had turned to solid ice at this point. Ken determined that he wasn't having fun on either the uphills or the downhills, so turned in for a van-nap after one night-lap, but Greg and I kept trucking. I'd switched to dry boots, which was pure heaven, and so far things were feeling pretty good. But as the night wore on, my ankles and calves were getting pretty beat up, just because of all the icy ruts we were skiing over. The downhills had become pretty suicidal, with ruts, bumpy waves made by snow machines, and not much visibility, but I stayed upright, for the most part - I definitely top sided a couple times when my ski would catch a rut and immediately change direction.
We stopped for another break at the van at 4am, and headed out by 5. The sky was lightening as we came back, and Ken joined us for the now-light-but-still-frozen 6am lap. My ankles were completely shot at this point, as were my calves and shins, and my knees didn't feel all that great either. We were staggering around, V1ing the flats because its a stable technique, double poling when the idea of standing on one foot was too much, although that was not making my elbows happy. But when the sun came up, so did my energy, and we were all pretty giddy by 8am, when Ali Crocker showed up to join us for a lap. She was fresh, which wasn't fair, but then she broke a ski (just the tail, so she could keep skiing on it), so that evened things out a bit and made us zombies look less clumsy.
We headed out for our final lap, up to the top of the mountain and then just straight down, and although it wasn't quite as soft as the day before, it was slow going because of the frozen snow machine ruts. Back to the van, after 180km over about 17 hours, and Ed was there with steaming pancakes and maple syrup. Ed is pretty much the best support crew EVER for stupidly long events.
Now that its over, I don't actually feel too bad for it. No blisters, no injuries (although my elbows don't work anyway, and stairs don't exactly feel fantastic on my knees...), and there were actually points where I was having fun. There were also points where I was decidedly NOT having fun, mostly after exiting the van and heading out to ski again. 5am: "This SUCKS. There is no way I am coming to California to do this next year." Because naturally, Greg thinks we should do this in Yosemite next year. And since Ken got to nap, he doesn't think its that bad an idea. I don't know if I can handle that much non-competitive skiing again...