No Hill for Old Men

“Man, you always make the best faces at the finish line,” laughed NENSA competition director Justin Beckwith at the finish of Sunday’s Climb to the Castle.

Utterly fried, I gasped for air. Someone asked if I needed help getting out of my roller skis. I shook my head no, even though back pain had made it difficult to clip into them down at the toll gate.

Another sufferfest on the Whiteface Mountain toll road. Just one hill; how hard can it be? Five miles, an eight per cent grade, 2300 feet of vertical. Unlike the previous year, mild temperatures, negligible wind, and dry pavement should have made for a good race.

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Mount van Hoevenberg: The Prodigal Skier Returns

Monday afternoon. On the Northway, the sun in our eyes as the shooting brake ate miles, heading back to the flatlands. My arthritic feet let me know they were unhappy with the day’s three-hour ski.

I said to Lars, “I used to think that if my fairy godmother offered me a choice of a 25-year-old cardiovascular system or 25-year-old feet, no contest. It’d be the motor. Anymore, I think I’d rather have 25-year-old feet.” Too many birthdays, and the wear and tear catches up with you.

Having company on a ski expedition was a welcome change to my usual solo missions. Lars and I first met in Prospect Mountain’s lodge over 20 years ago.

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Gliding at Paul Smiths VIC

It’s not uncommon to see people snowshoeing at a cross-country ski center. But near the end of my tour of Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), I espied a veritable gang heading towards me on snowshoes. Thirty or 40, mostly guys and a few women. They were all wearing hard hats, and Carhartt or buffalo plaid and Malone pants. Heavy gloves. They were all on one side of the trail, so I had no worries gliding by.


I accosted a straggler adjusting his snowshoe bindings. They were doing an outdoor session for a class in civic culture: How to manage a woodlot for a client. With a name like that, one would think the class covers polite debate, or how to hold a cup of tea with your pinky finger sticking out.

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