…know When To Fold ’em

     We should have known, I suppose. After an evening of rain and two days of sub-zero cold and brutal wind chills, my 17-year-old son and I headed out to cross-country ski at Hartley Park. The trails have been groomed impeccably all winter on city trails, but we knew were pushing it. A quick phone call to the city’s ski trail hotline (723-3678) confirmed my hunch. City Forester Kelly Fleissner’s recording said the city’s big grooming equipment was all but helpless to break through the ice crust on city trails. The trails, he said, were "like bobsled runs" and he advised no one ski them.
     We left a note at home saying we were going skiing and would call from the emergency room afterward.
     The trails were glare ice, as expected. We double-poled a section of flat trail, our skis clattering as they jounced along in the tracks. The temperature was 8 below. A brisk wind blew into our faces from the west.
      We might have been deluded into continuing except that the tracks were littered with twigs and spruce cones, courtesy of recent big winds. We bunched the groomed trail and free-lanced for Hartley Pond, just to see what it was like. We skied into the wind across the pond for a while before I turned to my son and said, "Do you have any need to keep going?"
       "No," he said. "It’s cold out here."
       So, we turned tail and hustled back to the car.
       OK. Now we know. It’s bad out there. We’ll have to have some new snow, or at least this weekend’s warmer weather, before those trails can be improved. And what we really need is snow.
       You can say we were foolish to have even gone out, but there’s something satisfying about checking it out firsthand, seeing what it’s really like. We were both glad we had gone, as brief as it was.
       And, hey — no trip to the ER.