Hyak, January 30, 2007
Skinning up the hard-packed groomers at Hyak and carefully skiing down the middle of a perfectly flat and empty run may sound tame, but there were extenuating circumstances.
I'd broken my leg in a bike accident on December 5th, had surgery on my left fibula on December 12th, and been in a progression of casts (plaster, fiberglass, inflatable boot) for six weeks, finally getting the OK from Dr. Todd Seidner to put weight on the leg and begin rehab on January 22nd, 2007. I'd been logging the miles on the stationary trainer for a week plus, but the ankle still felt tender. The big question in my mind was the prominent set of screws and the stainless plate that lay just under skin, and extending down to the bony part of my ankle.
Old friends Deliane Klein and Mike O'Brien, ski partners since junior high, and Francine Curd were happy to join me in my attempt to keep my turns-all-year streak alive without re-breaking my leg. We convened at the Hyak parking lot around noon on a crisply cold Tuesday with no one in sight on the ski hill. Perfect. Unfortunately the brilliant blue skies we had seen in North Bend were obscured by some swirling light clouds, but we hoped they would burn off.
Mike was still suffering from a back injury from this fall's wine-making chores in Oregon, and Francine still nursing an ACL repair, so it was kind of a parade of the walking (skinning) wounded, but we took our time and headed up the XC track to the summit. The fog did burn off after about half an hour of skinning, and the trees sparkled in the sunlight as we neared the top.
Climbing was surprisingly comfortable in my tennis shoe-like F1's - no problem at all going straight up, and only a little discomfort when traversing with the left leg in the uphill position. When we got to the top and I latched the boots down, a little more pain was involved, but I'm hopeful that can be remedied by my bootfitter friend Jim Mates.
As far as my ski streak goes, I didn't leave it to the very last day of the month, but it was still close. I felt like an Islamic fundamentalist walking out the gates of Guantanamo, feeling the sun on my face, smelling the mountain air, and once again experiencing the unique joy of sliding over snow. I was back.