Written by Addie and probably sanity checked by Doc…

(This is the warming hut at the Blueberry Ridge Ski Trail parking lot, where Doc changed into his boots, and put on his “poofy pants” which are very poofy and puffy and insulative, and can be slid right over his jeans.  We checked out the map and information board at the trail head.  I was very impressed with the simplicity and ‘clean-cut’-ness of the map compared to the wealth of information it presented.  It even showed how to read the trail marker signs in a little inset on the bottom right of the map.  Also, I was happy to see they had posted a no-dog notice for the ski season. I’m very pro-dogs on trails when on leash, but when a trail is groomed with tracks for skis, you just can’t tell most dogs not to step on the tracks because they get messed up and expect it to follow directions. In this case, dogs aren’t compatible with the trail system, and there are other places for them to walk).

I’ve cross-country skied since a kid, and much prefer it to down-hill (as in I’m pretty sure I’ve never officially down-hill skied, I’d much rather propel myself along, up and down instead of rushing madly down a meticulously groomed hill dodging other skiers and hoping not to kill anyone for a few minutes, then stand in line to wait for a chair to do the work of taking me up a hill. Yep, XC is my thing, on skis or on foot).  Mom and Dad taught my brother and I the basic-basics, and they’d learned on some of those community course classes (maybe a local community college, or maybe some recreation center had public courses).  However, at the level of recreation we skied at (and I continue to enjoy), gently used boots, bindings, and skies more than adequately handled our needs, so we never got sucked into the latest clothing fads, high tech (and expensive) ski pole, or tried to keep up with the Jones’s newest expensive slick swanky ski just released this season.  Plus, I rather like putzing around on my 3-pin bindings when they’re about hmm…. 1, 2, 3 and maybe 4 binding systems old, and literally when I went to get boots to replace my old ski-boots we left in Pennsylvania because they’d been in muggy storage enough to get manky ’cause we didn’t get ski-able snow that often …anyway, I had my trusty old Goodwill/Garage Sale skis but no boots, and they literally don’t sell them at the sporting good stores anymore, so it was either buy new skis, bindings (the hardware that connects the flat ski to the boot), and new boots (oh yah, and poles, I don’t have poles either ’cause my hiking poles got cannibalized for a project ’cause I wasn’t using them) totaling about $350ish, or hope like crazy that I’d find a pair of 3-pin boots in my size at a thrift store, or find skis with bindings that are relatively recent at a thrift store (there are plenty of 3-pin skis out there in thrift stores, they’re almost anachronistic, and a few of the slightly less old bindings, but if I get them, those boots are almost out of availability too).

(Doc wants the green …4-treader? ATV on treads? whatever it’s called, he wants it. I said if he sells a kidney.  He said we can get those tread thingies for our truck tires… I said when he sells that kidney…  There’s a view of the trail, and you probably can see the little sunken tracks where you can put your right foot in, and your left foot in, and just follow it along…)

So about a week ago, we spent a bit of time checking two sporting good stores, and all three thrift stores. Then at the last of them all, a Goodwill, I found a nearly-mint condition pair of 3-pin boots.  In my size.  As in the laces were so white I doubt they were actually used, and the fuzzy lining stuff wasn’t even compressed unused.  And they fit me, I tried them on.  And then when I put the rubber band back on and walked a few steps over to look at the ski poles, I noticed their price tag was gone, and the store won’t sell unpriced stuff (probably to discourage people from trying to haggle or price sticker swap).  I’d seen it when I picked them up, it was pink (of course, not that week’s color but they’re 3-pin binding boots in my size, I don’t care!).

So I hugged them tightly (not kidding folks I hugged them) and found a person who worked there (and when did it become untrendy to call someone who is employed, working for a paycheck, an employee?  What the heck is an associate… it’s not like they just happen to associate with the business!) and explained that I really really needed to buy them, would it be possible for them to be repriced please please please and thanks? And 10 minutes later and $10 later, I had a pair of mint, comfortable, super lucky 3-pin binding boots in my size and we went skiing!

And before anyone asks, I am skiing without poles.  I’m acceptable at it (I’d say it really doesn’t reduce my effectiveness at skiing at our pace and challenge level).  Actually, I’m about 50/50 on whether I like poles or not.  If I remember correctly, Mom and Dad mentioned that one of the classes they took, the instructor had them start off skiing without poles to focus on maintaining balance without relying on the poles.

And as a bit of a geek, or nerd, or dork, or whatever, part of the branding, design, or logo is a rooster on my current pair of skis.  One of my older pairs were blue with a lighter blueish purple design of a triangle made of 3 smaller triangles arranged around a negative space triangle… or something that look like a Triforce from the Zelda video game on them…a bit of a giggle inside for that!

Today we did our second trip skiing, and I’m still skiing without poles.  Doc is getting much more confident on his skiis, his experience is basically a few weeks during a class at Northern six years ago.  He’s not really that interested in skiing in and of itself, but he knows I really enjoy it, and his physical therapist says that there are a few things about it which will be beneficial in combating the progression of the symptoms of his Parkinson’s Disease.  One of the common things with PD is a stiffening of the limbs and how you hold your arms when you walk (sort of downward, without synchronizing their swing to your leg movement), and Doc is starting to experience that, especially on his right side.  Using the ski poles (or if he is hiking, the trekking poles) help keep those muscles engaged and working.  Nothing actually cures Parkinson’s Disease, but you can do things to fight back and maintain more functionality than if you just roll over and play the ‘poor me wallowing in misery on the couch’ game.  And like I’ve said, “Nothing stops the Docinator”  (ok, I can’t really spell it, maybe it’s Dockinator but that sounds like something that puts in piers and docks on lake shores with a vengeance).

We did the Lighted Loop at the Blueberry Ridge trail, between Marquette and Gwinn, near Sands (all of these places are in Michigan).

Our first trip last week was on a trail that was maintained and groomed a bit but didn’t have the groomed in 2 trench track thingies that are kind of like inverse railroad tracks for your skiis.  I’ve never really tried the method of skiing that is more of a roller blading motion (not talking about the cool trainer short skis with one directional wheels on the front/back for ‘skiing’ during the summer, I’ve never used those either), and I’ve never really found out if that’s ‘ski skating’ or ‘telemark’ or what, but one day I’d like to try.  What we’re doing is the parallel ski movement, kind of like the motion of a ‘Norditrack’ device. Both Ryan and I are using ‘waxless’ skis, for those who are interested.  That’s a whole ‘nother blog about stuff I’m barely acquainted with (waxless, scales, wax, etc.) but it has to do with how you get traction with the ski.


Doc is still learning… well, hasn’t ever yet learned to stop or slow down, on skis, ice skates, or roller blades (but he can stop if he’s using Roller Skates, I love roller skating!), so depending on the grade and conditions of a slope, we just take his skis off and carry them up or down, then put them back on.  That’s what we did last week for a couple of the hills, but they were much steeper.

Because of his injuries and now the noticeable onset of the Parkinson’s symptoms, hill and turns are more than the usual challenge for a skier. He has trouble balancing on one leg with a really long ski attached to each foot, as well as controlling his ankles, knees, hips, and balance to adjust the angle and pitch and yaw… roll? of each ski.  Going down hill, to slow down you make a ‘snow plow,’ and bring the tips of your skis closer together than the back and angle the flat surface of the ski bottom so the outer edge (pinkie toe side) tips up and the inner edge (big toe side) bites in to the snow.  Going uphill, reverse it: tips go wide, back ends of skis together, and again, try to bite in with the inner bottem edge of the ski.  We used to call it the herring bone ’cause you leave a fish bone track in the snow.

So we survived a gentle 1.7 miles of groomed with tracks trails, and I had fun.  I think he had fun, and I’m pretty sure we’ll go skiing again.


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